It’s Summer Vacation… I Guess

KIMG0621It is easy to get into a mode and forget what is really going on or should be going on. This year has been a year of treading water and I kept saying to myself that summer is almost here and we will start fresh next year. I need the summer to organize the house better after moving in. Aside from making the house look a little bit nicer, it will help me with our learning. All our boxes from the move were emptied and contents put somewhere in a frantic few weeks before Pesach, just to check for chometz and get the boxes out of the house, but we did not put things in a proper home. I am not used to “summer” starting a month early.  I think about every place I have lived, school has finished mid-late June, not the end of May. Summer for kids has been here for a month now, with one more month to go. I realized that I might as well be finished for the school year, take the next month to “chill” in the 95 degree heat (with lots of ice,) do at least some of the organizing and just let the boys chill out as well. So, that was it. We don’t give out certificates, though we did the first year or two, then it never seemed to work out, so I don’t think about it now. It was just, “Ok boys, school’s finished.” Just like that.  I don’t think it even phased them for they were busy camping with Grandpa and what not that they were not doing much of anything anyways.

It feels weird to let the boys hang. Especially this year when I felt that I had to try to cram things in when I could for there were lots of times that we did not do much because of all the moves, it feels strange. I feel rather relieved, which is a nice thing. I don’t feel guiltyKIMG0659 about them not doing their work. My husband was complaining that he does not think they did much this year. I am the first one to admit that is the case, and even though I have tried to tell him and explain to him multiple times throughout the year, it is hard when he is not here and seeing things for himself. And yes, even when we had a week here or there to just do school, there were multiple occasions when I had a hard time motivating myself and just did not feel like doing anything because of all that was going on in our lives.

I do feel optimistic though. I think this allowed time off is good for now I don’t worry about trying to teach and I have time to try to organize (which we already started last week!) I 2015-06-21am not sure how much time I have for organizing for we always seem to be doing something. But I have big plans, both for school and for the house, though not quite sure about what I am doing exactly I’m doing, but I have plans. 🙂 Yesterday the scouts had their first campout. It was really good with all but 2 boys there and several fathers coming. Mr. Little made cupcakes for the fathers (and boys) in honor of Father’s Day. Father’s got first pick at cupcakes for once. They were even able to hang a flag on their portable Ham Radio antenna!

Speaking of radios, last Friday was a Ham Fest (which did not start on Shabbos!) and so we all spent the afternoon roaming around the candy store for Hams. We even had an extra boy tag along with us. Mr. Big surprised us by actually taking his license manual on the camping trip with Grandpa and spend some time going over his manual. When he came home he announce that he wanted to upgrade his license at the Ham Fest. We looked at him and asked if he thought he was going to pass (it costs money to write the tests.) “I don’t know.” He definitely did not sound convincing. We made an agreement with him that we would pay if he thought he had a good chance of passing. He told us that we only needed to pay for one more test and if needed, he would pay for additional testings. Sounded fair enough. When we arrived at the convention center, he took off to write his test while the rest of us went through the candy store. It was a pretty cool place, even if one is not too interested – I do have my license but I am not interested like all the boys are. We even talked to the severe weather watch people and brought home some really nice posters on clouds. (Ham operators often times get certified as spotters so they can help watch for and call in weather warnings, for a big plus of being a Ham is for emergency preparedness.)

After what seemed like forever, we finally got a call on our radios from Mr. Big. He was wanted to know where to find us. Nothing about the test, but that is like him. Mr. Big #2 KIMG0650was the first to comment – even though Mr. Big was still too far away to say hi to. Did he or didn’t he, that was the question. Mr. Big #2 saw a sticker on his brother’s shirt and knew (though we could not read what it said.) As he came closer, sure enough, he had the tell tail signs of someone who passed – the small rectangle piece of paper proving all that hard work paid off! We were surprised! He did a LOT more studying without us knowing than we realized. Great job! Incidentally, that is now the reason why we have a hole in our ceiling; they wanted to put up an antenna in the attic that Mr. Big could now use…

Next week we’re off for a week trip with Grandpa. Not sure when I am organizing, but at least I don’t have to worry about school! 🙂


The last week started off wonderful.  After our wonderful relaxing time at the park, we went to bed with the news that a friend of ours got engaged. We were, of course, very excited for him.  When we first met him, he was in college.  During the years he was in college we got to know him fairly well and always enjoyed his company.  He has since left town and is working.  We have had the opportunity to talk to him occasionally since then and we are impressed at how much he has grown since we first met him.  Yes, I know, years and experience will do that to a person, but there is also the influence of everyone around you as well.  I felt that, or perhaps it was just that I hoped that, we had some small part in this growth.

I then got to thinking about my own children.  Parents are always wanting to do the right thing, to raise the best children, to instill all the good middos.  The question is are we doing it?  I have been busy working on our new school schedule this week.  It is a great time to think about the direction we are all heading and what needs to change.  I do not think it is a coincidence that the new school year happens to be at the same time Rosh Hashanah is.  (Well, not including exceptions such as South Africa and Australia!)

Three days of work and I think I have a fairly good schedule.  I believe I have learned stuff myself and have learned that even though technically we can get everything done by a certain time, life happens and it will not work.  I have remembered to put extra time in between each subject to leave room for boys not working like robots and taking a bit of time to find their stuff that is in their drawers, as well as to leave time for a certain 3 year old who demands attention at seemingly the “wrong” time, which really is not the wrong time, it is just that is his way of reminding me that I have forgotten about him, or so he thinks.

Aside from schedules, I also am in the yearly process of trying to rearrange our school area to make it the best it can.  Someone on one of my email lists sent a photo of their area – a 4×4 Ikea cubicle.  That way it makes things easy to organize.  We cannot purchase anything at the moment, so I’m trying to make my 3-shelf cabinet work very similar.  Each boy has a shelf for their books.  On top, I have drawers for things such as paints, pencils, erasers, and other non-book type items.

All that was the easy part.    The harder part is looking back at what worked for each child, and what did not.  How did I handle each child?  I definitely learned a lot this past year.  I too have grown.  How do I handle my three year old when he needs attention?  I have made sure I incorporated extra time in between subjects.  I have also included time where a brother gets to play with him and keep him occupied.  How do I handle an older brother who can get difficult?  I have found out that he also craves One-on-One attention.  That might sound funny to a homeschool parent who teaches each child separately to begin with, but it is so much more that meets the eye.  This child functions so much better and is a lot easier to teach when no one is in the room, or at least not moving (i.e. reading a book by himself and not talking.)  Math is best done after everyone is finished and I can give him my 100% attention and not be interrupted by others.  Giving extra chores when the wrong behavior is exhibited I found is a good end to many tantrums and keeps me calm.

It is also a time to look at the direction that each of us is taking.  We have made several changes throughout the year on how we run our daily lives (outside of school,) in order to try to steer our children along the right path.  When we see a negative trait peeking through too much, we have tried to correct it.  However, a new school year is also a good time for new road markers for the boys seem more readily accepting, or rather less suspicious (and therefore less arguing about our new rules), when we can find an excuse to incorporate the new road markers in with a new school year.

The introspection does not stop here.  Amid all of the work I am doing for our boys and our new school year, I also need to find a few moments to look at myself.  Am I the best parent, the best teacher, the best wife, and the best friend that I can be?  Yes, I have already done part of it by following the steps above, but there is more to do.  I have to work hard on being the best me I can be so that, IY”H, our children can be the best they can be.