Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The war is on!

    We have a little problem around my house with gnats.  Last summer they seemed to be everywhere and this summer it is even worse.  I don’t know if they are coming from the neighbor’s backyard pool that slightly resembles a swampy pond or if they are coming from the tank on our back porch that houses our pet turtle, Greenleaf.  I’m sure they find their way in because the children have a very bad habit of leaving the doors wide open for extended periods of time.  They sometimes forget completely to pull the door closed behind them, leaving clear a path for every flying creature to make himself at home.  And they have.  Whatever the source and whoever is to blame, the gnats are driving me crazy flying all over my house.  Last summer, in total exasperation, I announced that I would pay the children a nickel for every gnat they killed.  I had to see the dead bug before I would pay up, but I was willing to do anything to rid my house of the pests.  My boys loved this idea and became expert gnat hunters, coming to me every few minutes with the corpses of the unsuspecting little suckers on the ends of their fingers or smashed beyond recognition on the palms of their hands.  I quickly exhausted my supply of nickels.  In fact, I have yet to recover financially from the abundant gnat hunting season of last summer.  Yet, they are back in even greater numbers this year.  So, in desperation, I offered to pay for the gnats this year with candy.  I found a leftover bag of valentine hearts in the back of the cupboard and offered one heart per bug.   Again the kids set off with a vengeance, eager to slay the tiny winged dragons.  The boys are excellent at their craft.  In fact, I have gotten so sick of having a dead gnat shoved in my face every few minutes that we had to come up with a better way to keep track.  So, it has now become commonplace in my house to find Kleenex lined up on the kitchen counter, covered in the bodies of the little gnat victims, awaiting counting so that their killers can be proper compensated. 
    The battle continues to rage.  Yesterday, I ran out of candy.   The bugs seemed to have won the war.   Then, out of the blue, my neighbor came over today with a three pound bin of candy.  She explained that her husband had brought home several of the bins and they wanted to share with us.   “We are back in business,” I told the boys and off they went to earn more candy.  I’m not sure who will ultimately triumph, the bugs or the boys but I am pretty sure the dentist will benefit the most from the great summer gnat crusade.  And, in the meantime, I am left to wonder, does anyone else have as crazy a life as me?!!??!

Thursday, June 24, 2010


My daughter and I were having a little talk the other night.  I am not sure how the subject came up but we were discussing our choice to home school and how she felt about it.   She admitted to me that sometimes she does think it would be fun to go to a “regular” school, “but Mommy,” she said, “ I am different than other girls my age.  I don’t think I would fit in.”
    I smiled at her statement and tried to explain to her that everyone is different.  But, at “regular” school  kids often try to be just like one another, liking the same things and having the same interests as everyone around them, just so they can fit in.  I told her about my own experience in middle school.  How I never felt like I really fit in, but I kept trying to be just like the other kids.  I told her how I tried so hard to like all the things the other kids seemed to like and that whenever I felt different or had different interests I thought there was something wrong with me.  It was no wonder I felt that way, because even though I tried so very hard to fit in, I was still teased all the time.  I was teased because I loved to read and always had my nose in a book.  I was teased because my hair was coarse and curly and everyone else’s was straight and soft.   I was teased because I was shy and quiet.  I am sure my experiences of feeling different and worrying constantly about fitting in in “regular” school was not at all unique. 
    My daughter was right, different isn’t very accepted in “regular” school and I was very impressed with her insightful observation.  At her young age, she was able to see that she is who she is and that she is not just like every other child her age.  She was wise enough to note that that might not be valued in a “regular” school but it didn’t make her want to change.  It did not make her feel like she needs to change.  I was once again reminded of why Tim and I have chosen to home school.  It certainly is not a solution to all the social difficulties in the world but home schooling has allowed my children to be different, without fear of rejection from the world.  I tried to tell my daughter how proud I am of her, and her brothers and sisters, because they are so good at being themselves.  In truth, I  suspect my children are really not as different as they may feel, but they are just blessed enough to not be afraid to be themselves.   And, that is a blessing I wish all children had.   

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A time for change

    Our annual summer pets are here!  Every summer, for the past three years or so, my older son has gone out and caught tadpoles.  He had a helper this year and between the two of them, my boys have captured 10 little polywogs.  Now, with eager anticipation we all await the arrival of full-fledged frog-hood.  What an amazing transformation these little guys will go through- right before our eyes.  They start out as very round swimmers, speedily darting around in our big plastic bucket with their tails flapping wildly behind them.  Within mere days they grow their legs, lose their tails and, if we are not quick enough, hop right out of the bucket and take off to face the dangers of our big backyard.   If we are on the ball and observing closely enough, we will grab them as soon as they grow their back legs and take them to a nearby park with a nice pond, full of froggy friends, and set them free in safety.
    This little view of nature at work reminds me a lot of the journey we have taken this year of watching our own little polywog, our beautiful baby girl born in August, transform before our very eyes.   She, too, started quite round, with very chubby cheeks, anyway.  She, too, has changed remarkably, not, though it sort of feels like it, in days but months.  She started out so small, so helpless, so sweet and innocent.  Now she is so busy, so big, and always finding trouble.  She has a strange obsession with her sibling’s flip flops, and loves to get her little hands on them, immediately trying to get them into her mouth after wards- yuck!  She loves library books almost as much, also trying to eat them when she gets the chance.  She gets into my cupboards dumping Tupperware and pots and pans all over the kitchen.  As soon as we clean it up she’s at it again so that we have all become accustomed to stepping carefully around the mess whenever we venture to the fridge for a drink.  She, much to her brothers and sisters' annoyance, presses the buttons on the DVD player and climbs over them as they lay on the floor when trying to watch movies.  And yesterday, when we were having a lovely picnic at the park with our friends, she stuck her chubby little hand into the vegetable dip bowl, grabbed a big handful of the soft, mushy dip, and-of course shoved it into her mouth the minute I looked away in an attempt to have an adult conversation.
    I think, too, of my older daughter who at 11 ½ is on the verge of a transformation herself.  My very first baby who just a few years ago it seems was at the stage of her baby sister, tentatively taking her first steps.  It feels like just last week, that she was, like her little brother, about to start kindergarten excited at the prospect of learning to read all by herself.   I cannot believe that the tall, lanky pre-teen who rolls her eyes in disgust at her little brother and sister’s silly pretending games is the same child who used to hold birthday parties every afternoon for “Slidey and Melina” the imaginary friends who were such a part of our lives back when she was into pretending.   She is now taller than my mother and her feet are almost as big as mine.  We used to talk about her Fisher Price Little People, now we discuss shopping trips to the thrift shop to buy her more clothes, because she is bored with all her current fashion choices.  She has already changed so dramatically, I am not sure I am at all ready for what is too come…very soon.
    I am all too aware of my own aging process, as well.  My hair, once full of thick, black, curly tresses is now being crowded out by wiry, gray strays that stick out in the oddest ways.  I noticed a few fine lines developing around my mouth and near my eyes and my skin is no longer clear and youthful.  How can that be me, looking back in the mirror?  I don’t feel nearly as middle aged as I am starting to look.
    Just as our newly acquired tadpoles are rapidly working to become frogs, my baby is turning into a toddler.  My little girl is almost a young lady and I am starting to look more and more like my grandmother everyday.  Change in life is so unavoidable, so inevitable, and sometimes, so hard to take.  But, like the little frogs, who whether they like it or not will have to give up their happy, aquatic life of swimming for a hoppy life on land, we must accept that life is always moving forward.  So, though I will undoubtedly mourn the passing of my children’s childhoods, I am also anxious to see the people they will become as they grow and change.  No matter what happens, the transformation is sure to be amazing.  And, as their mother, I will be sure to be vigilant enough to see them safely through their journey into the world outside our home.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A long overdue Father's Day thank you....

    He wrestles with the kids after dinner, gets them all wound up and wild right before bedtime- the highlight of their day.  He spends his Saturday night, after a long week of work, happily folding and folding and folding, as they all line up with paper in hand begging for just one more airplane.  He talks with them in their rooms as the sun sinks low in the sky outside the window, explaining why mommy got upset and what they should have done better after a rough day of punishments that just don’t seem fair.  He shares his ice cream, his popsicles, his cake with the already sticky demanding little faces that stand next to him mouths wide open and waiting for just one more bite of daddy’s dessert.  He leads the family prayers, lovingly tucks the big kids into their cozy bunk beds, kisses them good night, and then bathes the baby so I can have ten minutes to myself at night.  And all this, in addition to working two jobs to support 5 kids who are not always as grateful as they should be for the food on the table, clothes on their backs and their mommy home to care for them during the day.
    Neither the kids nor I say thank you often enough but today, on Father’s Day, I want to share with the world how grateful I really am for the wonderful man and fabulous father my husband is.  Thank you Tim for all you do to support our family.  Thank you for being such a devoted dad to the kids.  Thank you for being so much fun- playing with them, teasing them, making them laugh and smile, and, most importantly, making each of them feel special and loved.  Thank you for helping me out, with the day-to-day chaos and juggling act of caring for the kids and meeting their never-ending needs and demands, and for never forgetting that that is only a small part of our job of raising them to be good, holy people.  Thanks for being an awesome dad and the best husband ever!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

On my week off...

    I took a hiatus from the computer….  I had realized, for quite a while, that I was devoting way too much time to playing around on the computer and way too little time playing with my children.  I was aware of my mixed up priorities.  Aware enough even to promise myself I would spend less time on the computer tomorrow but, though I knew I should, I kept putting off the follow-through on my promise.  Finally, I declared a complete and total hiatus- no e-mail, no Facebook, no blogs, not even a few minutes to download pictures from my camera’s memory card.  I avoided the computer entirely for 6 straight days.  Tim was kind enough to give me the e-mail updates (in all that time, I received only one personal e-mail, which I returned with an old fashioned phone call to a dear friend I had not spoken to in months).   As for Facebook,  it did not even seem to notice my absence.  And, I did not miss it at all.   In fact, to my surprise “unplugging” was easier than I thought.  After months and months of computer overload- e-mail, Facebook, blogging- writing my own and reading other people’s, research on school books and for school projects, looking up crafts, and various other important matters, I realized I really didn’t need the computer all that much. 
    So, though I did not miss out on much in the world wide web, there are a few highlights of life that I did miss sharing on my blog….  
  • At now ten months old, baby took her first steps- two actually, right to me!  What excitement it caused in the house as we all cheered excitedly for this amazing milestone!  Since then, of course, her siblings feel the need to constantly stand her up in the middle of the room and try to coax her to step their way.  She has not been very cooperative but, despite the thrill of seeing her “walk”, I am no hurry to have her really up and going!
  • I got to spend time with my sister and her family while they were visiting from up north for a few weeks.  Seeing my nephew and niece and watching all the “cousins” play together was a beautiful blessing and I have a million pictures to download!
  • While our out-of-town family was visiting we all went swimming together.   I have not had so much fun in a long time. I jumped in the pool over and over, with my nephew and my children-- looking very silly, I'm sure, but enjoying every minute of it!
  • I cleaned out my junk drawer after years of just shoving in more and more stuff.  I finally had the time and it is amazing how satisfying it is to open it now and stare in wonder at how organized and neat it looks.  What an accomplishment!
  • I also cleaned out my classroom, almost as monumental a job as the junk drawer.  It now looks like a different place and I feel a little more confident about starting school again in a month or so.
  • To follow up her adorable and amazing first steps, baby danced for the first time.  It was so cute to watch her, unexpectedly, shake her little hands and wiggle her chubby legs in time with “Old MacDonald had a Farm”.  These moments are just priceless.
I don’t know if the time I have taken off the computer the past few days will help me to moderate my time better in the future but, for now, I am grateful for the time I spent in the “real world” this week.  I have enjoyed my children a little more, I have caught up on a few jobs I had been neglecting, and I have felt better about myself and my life than I had in a long time.  Computers have allowed us a window to so many things we would otherwise be isolated from, but they can also be the cause of a lot of isolation and wasted time.  Somehow, I had unintentionally allowed my life to get disordered, in large part because of the computer and the lure of cyberspace.  I pray that I will not lose sight of my priorities again and that my time in cyberspace will be well spent and well ordered from now on.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Life is messy- really messy!

    I woke up early this Saturday morning.  I got up with the baby at 6 am, when she woke up to nurse and then refused, despite all my encouragement, to go back to sleep.  She was raring to go, I was exhausted.  Slowly the other children woke up too, joining me and the baby in the family room and before I knew it I looked around at the state of my house and stared in disbelief.  It reminded me of a children's show my oldest daughter used to love when she was a toddler.  “The Big Comfy Couch”, was a very silly show about a clown and her couch, and at the end of each episode the clown would stand on her couch and scream-”Who made this big mess?”  and all around her you would see a disaster of toys that, of course, she was responsible for.   My family room was a similar disaster and my thoughts were exactly the same, “Who made this big mess?” 
    In the foyer there was a ball of assorted beach towels from our trip to the beach the night before, a trip which was cut short when my son stepped on something under the water and cut his foot.  After bleeding all over the sand, his father, and a few baby wipes we found just a teeny tiny cut on his heel but ended up throwing everything quickly back into the van and coming right home anyway.   I vaguely remember dumping the towels at the front door in our attempt to clean the kids up but somehow, in the chaos, the towels were forgotten and left there all night.  In addition to the beach towels that I never quite got around to, a basket of clean but not yet folded laundry sat on the end table.  It, too, got sort of dumped and forgotten, though I cannot even remember what distraction prevented that job from being completed.   The baby’s toys were everywhere, she, of course, had no interest in them but was instead crawling over and over to the kitchen (being dragged back to the family room every time by her siblings who were trying to help me keep her out of trouble) to investigate the cereal the big kids had dropped during breakfast.  Someone had added a few mixing bowls and Tupperware containers to the pile of baby toys, obviously in an attempt to entice the baby to stay put for a minute or two.  There were, as there always are at my house, library books on the couch, the loveseat, the chair and the coffee table, and a few more on the floor near the magazine rack we try to keep them all in.  For good measure, a few of our own books were also strewn about the room in various spots.   As if books were not enough, a big sloppy pile of food magazines sat right next to the baby toys, evidence of the grocery list I had been working on but never finished.   A stray baseball cap was tossed in one corner, pillows were stacked in another, and a box of markers decorated the coffee table along with all the books.  In the midst of the clutter, my five year old son and seven year old daughter were alternately playing with and fighting over the new marshmallow shooter that we insanely bought as pre-school graduation gift for the five year old.  So, of course, that meant marshmallows flying all over the room, bouncing off walls and landing everywhere.  They too, would end up largely forgotten, only to be found later sticking to the carpet and somewhat ground in.   Like the clown from that silly old show, I am not sure how all this happened.  Life is just messy, I suppose.  Now, in the show, the clown would announce that it was time for a ten-second-tidy and she would proceed to clean up super fast, mostly by shoving everything under the couch cushions.  That part of the show always bothered me a bit.  I was not sure the message of shoving things haphazardly out of sight as cleaning was the best message for my toddler, but considering the state of my house these days…. I have to admit that really would be an improvement.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Which is better- small families or big families?

    I am very opinionated.  It has gotten me into a bit of trouble in my life.  I had hoped that my blog would provide an opportunity to share my views without as much risk of offending people.  After all, if you don’t like what I have to say, you don’t have to read the blog.   Still I have been careful to try not to offend anyone and have been somewhat guarded with some of my more controversial opinions.   However, there has been a blog post rumbling around in my head for a while now and though I have tried to silence it lest I offend anyone, it hasn’t relented and so I am giving in….  I apologize in advance if it comes across as judgmental….
    I read in a Catholic parenting book, many years ago a statement that has stayed with me ever since.   The author was speaking about family size and being open to life and he said that in smaller families, specifically those with one or two children, many parents have a tendency to treat their children like little gods and goddesses.   At the time, I had only two children.  However, the statement did not offend me.   Maybe because I had always wanted to have a big family and knew that my family was not complete with two children.  Whatever the reason, I was not only not offended by the statement but instead, I was intrigued.  I saw exactly what the author was talking about.  I knew families where the one or two children were exalted to undeserved heights.  Lovely families with parents who only wanted what was best for their children, spoiling them rotten with material goods, unhealthy parental attention and focus, and ridiculous expectations to perform in order to please their parents.  I saw that these parents, though certainly well intentioned, were doing their children a disservice by making them out to be the center of the world and worthy of something awfully close to idol worship.   I know of families where the children are involved in unending activities, where their every whim and passing interest is catered to and there is no consequence for wasting time and money on things they end up having no attention span for.  I know children who are given bedrooms and play rooms full of toys none of which is appreciated or valued.   I have seen families where the children can do no wrong, where their parents are convinced that every little thing they do is monumental and deserving of a celebration or, at the very least, proper acknowledgment from the world around.  Now, it could be said that this is a universal American thing, not exclusive to smaller families, but it is a lot harder to maintain such treatment when you have 4 or 5 or 6 children to cater to.  It just isn’t realistic in a big family and I don’t know any families with many children who are able to keep it up.
    On the other hand, a very good friend once observed that some people with bigger families see their children, not as gods or goddesses but as little trophies to show off.  This observation, too, intrigued me.  I had never thought of it before but I could see her point too.  Having a large family does attract a certain amount of attention.  It is not necessarily all positive attention, but as anyone who has spent time with young children will tell you, even negative attention seems to be strangely desirable, at times.  I could see how children could be viewed as trophies.  How it could be easy to get caught up in a sort of numbers game, “I have 5 children,” the mother says proudly with her beautiful brood all lined up in a  row.  “Well, I have ten children ranging in age from 16 to newborn,” says the other mother looking perfectly poised.  Though I have no television and have never seen them, I am told there are several reality shows out there that feature families who sound as though they may suffer from such attitudes.   Yes, unfortunately, our children can be seen as status symbols.  I pray that I will never fall prey to such beliefs.  I hope I will never lose sight of the fact that my children are unique individuals, sent as blessings from God, and not as feathers in my cap to show off or exploit.  Nevertheless, the idea of trophy children was one that caused me to think.
    So, now that I may have offended every woman who has ever given birth- whether to one or many children, what is my point?  Only to make others think as it made me think.  Well, that and to share my own observations and opinions on the subject…I believe that our children are to be valued, to be respected, to be nurtured and loved- but all with God at the center.  I believe the only way to truly plan our families, with the right intention, is to be open to God’s plan and to seek His guidance in all our marital and parenting decisions.  I believe our children will be served best by parents who love God above all, who trust in Him completely, and who want most to serve Him by raising faith-filled well-adjusted, humble children.   And I know, for me, the only way I can dream of achieving that is by putting God at the center of my life and relying on His guidance and grace.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Looking ahead...

    A home school mother’s work is never done.  As soon as one school year ends, I must plan for the next.  I finished up all our grades, filled out the children’s report cards and sent them off just last week.  I breathed a sigh of relief that we were done with formal lessons for another year and sat back to relax.  Then, almost immediately, I started planning for next year.  I wanted to just take a little while off, concentrate on summer school fun and enjoy the break but I find, I cannot help myself.  Next year is right around the corner and I seem to automatically shift to planning mode after wrapping up the final days of teaching. 
    I have never bought what I once heard called, “school in a box”.  This was, in fact, the first year I had bought prepared lesson plans, and even then I switched a few things out.  I actually found, despite the convenience of the ready-made lessons, I prefer building my own curriculum.  So, I have been spending time the last few days making lists.  Things I liked and know I want to continue using.   Things I want to check out and look into.  Things I need to ask my friends about.   I have narrowed down more than half our books for next year.  The rest I am busily researching.  I have poured over websites, considered many recommendations, borrowed and peeked at books from friends.   This is undoubtedly one of my favorite parts of home schooling.  I love lists.  I love planning our school year.  I love when the boxes of new books arrive and they have that new book smell and they are fresh and shiny and have never been opened.  I always feel so optimistic about our school year as I plan it ahead of time.
    Even this year, as burnt out as I was feeling just a few weeks ago, I am having fun trying to decide what books to use and how I’ll put it all together.  At the same time, I am worrying about the logistics of teaching all four of my older children and chasing after an active toddler (baby will surely be walking by the time we start up again).   So, this year, as part of my planning, I am praying.  I am going to try to focus much more on enjoying the time with my children again.  I got away from that in the last year or so and thought of our school time as just school time.  I want to remember that it is family time, as well.  It is my time to put my children first, before the housework, before phone calls, before playing on the computer.   I want to delight in watching them learn and in sharing the time with them.  I want to get excited to learn with them again, like we did the first few years.   I am keeping an open mind and reminding myself that it won’t be all rosy and perfect and pretty each day, of course.  Still it is my hope that, God willing, next year will be one of our best, a time of learning, discovering and growing together not necessarily because I pick out the very best books, or create the most amazing lesson plans but because I remember each day to be grateful for the gift of my children and my family and for the opportunity to spend this time together.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

My son is better than your son

    When my oldest son was only about 11 months old he and I were invited to a play date at the house of a friend of mine who had a son of her own, just a few weeks younger than mine.  When we arrived there were three or four other moms there also, each with a child around the same age.  I remember clearly, watching all the other little ones sitting on the floor playing nicely while my son toddled in circles around them all.  One of the babies started to clap his hands and the others all joined in, all except my son who was too busy walking around the room to even notice.  I went home from that play date so worried.  My son had never clapped, he didn’t know how yet.  I didn’t think much about the fact that none of the other babies was walking yet but I agonized over my own son’s lack of clapping ability.  Now, all these years later it seems so silly, obviously my son was more focused on his gross motor skills to be bothered with something as trivial as clapping but at the time I really did worry.
    I should have known better than to compare my children to anyone else’s, or to each other for that matter.  But, I had already spent most of my life making comparisons so, it just came naturally to me.  I had spent my entire childhood comparing myself to my sister, who was just 18 months older than me.  I’m not sure anyone else compared us as much as I did but I grew up feeling constantly in her shadow.   My sister was always just a little older, just a little farther ahead, and always, at least in my mind, better than me.  It didn’t matter that I had a few really good friends, she always seemed to have more.  It didn’t matter that I did well in school and got good grades, teachers always seemed to like her better.  I had a way of focusing on my failures and her successes and feeling bad about myself in comparison.   Even in adulthood, I tend to compare myself to others.  I notice the success of my friends and neighbors and feel bad that I am not as good as they are.  I see other home schooling families and beat myself up for not being as organized as they are.  I hear about an acquaintance who ran a marathon and feel like my little two mile walk was practically worthless.  It seems whenever I compare myself to anyone else I always see myself lacking, yet I keep doing it over and over again.  It is so easy to see myself as inadequate next to my more successful, more accomplished friends. 
    My son, the late clapper, is now almost 9 years old.  He still prefers to be up and moving- climbing trees, riding his bike, or playing baseball rather than engaging in quiet, passive activities like practicing his handwriting or coloring in coloring books with his siblings.  Yet, he has learned to clap.  He also tests very well in all of his school subjects every year.   The point is, he is doing fine.  He is himself, not necessarily like all the other kids, but very successful in his own way.  It was useless and silly of me to compare him to others when he was a baby, just like it is when I compare myself to others.  God has not called me to run in any marathons, or to be perfectly organized.  If He had blessed me with the gift of athletic endurance or amazing organizational skills than I would be more successful in those areas.  Instead, He gave me my own gifts, talents, and strengths and it would do me a lot more good to focus on those than to worry about all that I have not accomplished in life.   In fact, if the only thing I ever do well in life is be a good wife to my husband and a good mother to my children than I will have served God in just the way He created and called me to.  And if I can serve God by using the gifts He has given me, I will be the very best at being me, which is all I should ever strive for.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Summer break- the best part of home schooling

Ahhhh!  Summer break…we finally made it and I am so glad!  My favorite parts of summer break are: sleeping in, spending leisurely mornings in my p.j.’s ,  going to the beach once a week with the family, and summer school.  Yes, summer school.  I know that is not one of the more popular activities to make it on a “summer favorites” list but they say home schoolers are weird.  So weird, that even though I was counting down for weeks to our summer break, I am still excited about the prospect of summer school.   Summer school, for us, doesn’t involve any workbooks, or any papers to grade, or, best of all, any pressure at all.  Summer school is the fun part of learning without the pressure to get it right or make sure everything gets covered.
    One of our first years of home schooling I used our summer break to teach the kids about each of the states in the U.S.  We learned about one state each day of our summer.  We started with the facts- when it became a state, where it was on the map, what the state flag looked like and what the state bird and flower were.  We would read a little about the state’s history and what it was known for.  Then we did an activity inspired by what we had learned.  We panned for gold in California (using our anniversary edition Lego’s with the gold blocks), we made sunflowers with real seeds in the middle in Kansas, we designed our own mansions in Rhode Island.  The kids got so excited about the states that summer and watching them learn, I did too.  The next summer, which happened to be an election year, we did something similar with the presidents.  A president a day, each day of summer.  We learned about the political party each president belonged to, what years they served, and the vice-president(s) under each one.  Then we learned more fun and interesting facts about them.  We learned that Thomas Jefferson wrote the Constitution, that Andrew Jackson’s inauguration party got so wild he had to sneak away, that William Henry Harrison was only president for 3o days, and that William Taft was so large he got stuck in the bathtub once.  One year our summer studies centered around nature adventures we took around town with our home schooling group.  We met at different parks in the area and spent many hot but lovely afternoons trying out everything from cane pole fishing (using home made cane poles) to wading in meandering creeks with crawfish and turtles (but thankfully, at least that day, no alligators) to building our own fort out of palm fronds and stray branches.   We caught frogs, snails, and tadpoles, climbed trees and took nature walks, and had the most magnificent summer with our friends under the bright Florida sunshine, which ended up leading perfectly into Florida history which we studied that next school year.
    This year, we are not so structured or organized.  After a challenging year of school we need a little more laid back approach to our summer learning and since its summer we can have that.   So far, though our summer has really just started, we have already made our own movie- a version of the Three Little Pigs featuring a little not-so-bad wolf instead of the big, bad wolf who usually shows up in that tale, and worked on drawing still life scenes on our coffee table.  We are going to learn about tide pools by regularly visiting a local beach that is home to many of them and reading Holling Clancy Holling’s Pagoo.  Our only goal, this summer is to have fun together, to be creative, and to keep our minds active.   Call me weird, but I am looking forward to it all with great anticipation- I just love summer school!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...