Summer break is just about over for us; however, living in Florida means that 'summer' will keep on going for several more months. Whew, it's hot here! Thankfully we get a breeze off the Atlantic which helps quite a bit as does air conditioning and a swimming pool.
July was very busy. We started the month celebrating the 4th with a new homeschool family we met earlier in the year. It's always great when the kids hit it off allowing the grown-ups time to compare notes on topics of all kinds. Best part of the night was watching the firework display set off courtesy of the young men in the house. Thanks James and Joey!
Next on the docket was a trip to Nashville to see the cousins. This was the first time the kids got on a plane together and spent a week somewhere without us. We knew they were in excellent hands, but you never know exactly how it's going to go. Turns out we did have one hiccup with Emily catching a cold. It's never fun to be sick especially when you're away from home. Aside from this, it sounds like the kids had a marvelous time.
Not only was it a first for the kids to travel and vacation alone, it was a first for Dennis and I to be alone in the house together. I've often poked fun at the idea of a "stay-cation" but honestly that's exactly what it was. We went for walks on the beach, played a lot of golf, watched movies, read a book, and went out for dinner almost every night. I didn't grocery shop, makes meals, clean the house (well, maybe a little), or plan lessons. It was a luxury I had not experienced since back when we were dating. Don't get me wrong, life wouldn't be the same without the kids, but for a few days, it was very refreshing.
A few days after the kids got back it was time for another first: sending Emily off to camp. Emily attended Student Life church camp in Toccoa, GA for 5 days. We put her on the bus at 12:30am Monday morning where they drove for 9+ hours to get to their destination. We had phone contact in the evenings, but other than that she was on her own. It sounds like she had a blast and really enjoyed being with her friends. I think it was a really good experience although going away from your family for the first time is always a little hard - and not just for her! It was like a mini preview of what the future holds. I know there will be many more good-byes up ahead and I just had to keep reminding myself that she is always in God's hands. Thankfully she returned safe and sound late Friday night.
The following week was spent at my folk's house working on some landscaping projects. My parents, who are in their early 70's, are both very active but handling yard work in Florida - in the middle of the summer - is enough to make anyone wilt so we were glad to help. The first day started out with renting a chipper and cleaning up palm branches around the yard. We all worked at a fast and furious pace to get the job done. A few hours into it, my dad lifted a heavy stone resulting in becoming light-headed and eventually going in and out of consciousness. Although I immediately suspected dehydration and ran to get some water, the sight of him continuing to deteriate convinced me to call 911. The paramedics recommended a quick trip to the hospital and get an IV which thankfully he did. With plenty of fluids back in his body, he was as good as new. It was a scary reminder to drink lots of water when working in the heat. The next few mornings continued with more jobs around the house. It was good to see the kids working and it was nice to see the improvements they made.
So here we are with just a week before we officially start back to a more structured learning schedule. (I've learned to NOT refer to it as "school"). In some ways I feel very ready and excited to get started, in other ways I'm not sure if I have everything we need and have it planned out effectively. The big things (math, science, history, and grammar) are ready to go. It's the electives (art, gym, computer science) that I'm still trying to figure out. I know we don't have to start everything at the same time so I'm continuing to research what might work best. And speaking of best, I've been reading more and more about unschooling and it still holds a huge appeal to me. I know that it works because I've seen my kids learn a lot by themselves this summer yet I still can't quite let go of organized structure (force-fed) learning. Ugghh! I'm going to keep praying about it, focus on things the kids are interested in, and take lots of field trips. Maybe we'll segue into it someday or maybe we'll keep doing what's working for us. I guess that's the beauty of homeschooling... you're never really locked into one thing. Praise God for that!