The Do-Nothing Summer

This post could have just as easily have been entitled “Second Week of Summer,” but my heart is not to document how we spend each week of what I anticipate to be a 10-week break from our school routine.   But this was a week of “ah-has,” as we called them in my corporate days–the point at which I had to heed to the teachable moment.

It happened quickly, as teachable moments often do, and I was left to marinate what the moment meant to me for days afterward.    After picking up the oldest from her volunteer work, I had to run inside a grocery store.   I had all three children with me when we ran into a friend from church.   She immediately recognized the oldest’s volunteer jacket, and they had a brief dialogue about how much the oldest was enjoying her opportunity.    Then our friend asked our son, “And what are you doing this summer?”    With all the honesty and candor of a child, he replied, “Nothing.”    She played it off well, saying that “nothing can be good sometimes, too,” and I smiled in agreement, but inside I was crushed.   (Gasp!!)   My child saying that he was doing nothing this summer?!!

 Of course, he is not actually doing nothing.    We’re completing a minimal amount of school.   He and his dad are set for a record to see every superhero movie out this summer, and he’ll attend a dance workshop later in the summer.   However, given that I normally have camps planned and at least one trip in the works, hearing him tell someone that he’s doing nothing was awkward.   It’s like when someone asked your homeschooled kid, who might have a 7th grade science book, a 6th grade math text, a 5th grade English workbook, and read on a 10th grade level, what grade he/ she is in.    When the kid replies, “I don’t know,” it’s just not a good look.

While this short scene marinated in my mind, it occurred to me that I’d been so psychologically preoccupied with getting the oldest’s plans and activities in order until I let everything else go.   Moreover, her daily activities are taking over our summer such that I have a hard time sitting to think  and accomplish other tasks.   To begin with, during our more formalized school time, I normally wake up when my husband awakens, but I don’t get up until around 7:30.   This gives me–in theory–at least an hour by myself before I awaken the kids to meditate on the Lord, have my own worship time, get a headstart on breakfast, or catch up on some last-minute project from the night before.   Summer was supposed to be more-laid back and relaxed.  Instead, I now have to get up every morning by 7 a.m. at the latest so that the oldest can get to school on time.    Even on Fridays when she has no class, she’s taken on extra volunteer opportunities, and so I’m still up early to have her in place.   And almost all the flexibility that homeschooling allows into our schedule is gone as we adjust ourselves to having to meet others’ time and deadlines.   

 

So our younger two are left to their own devices this summer–at least, so far, and I’m having to learn re-learn a few things, too.   1st lesson: it’s okay at times to have nothing to do, aka Miss Mason’s “masterly inactivity.”    I love seeing the kids turn off the television on their own.   Our son, a huge fan of author Rick Riordan (of “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” fame), has taken on the task of an avid reader–to read what his favorite authors read, and thereby to gain more insight into their perspective.   So, there are long periods of the day when we don’t see him, but I pass by to be sure that he’s still breathing.    I often find him on his futon with his head in a book.

 

The youngest could come up with a brand new project, complete with its brand new mess, about once per hour, if I let her.   But, with her time, she created a family restaurant out of all the chairs and tv trays in the house (and she accidentally deleted my picture of it), where we decided to eat and have dinner once per month.   She’s learned basic sewing stitches well enough to make purses for her and her dolls.     Today, she made a tent of quilts and chairs where she and the dogs could nap, in case she actually takes a nap, which would be enough reason to take a picture.

 

 

 

I can be taught, too.   I can learn that I don’t have full control of my schedule as I accustomed to having, and that’s okay.   I can sew.  I can read.   I can plan.    I can work.    I can even take a mid-day nap.   Wow, this do-nothing summer might just work out after all.

 

The Family that Competes Together

 Our final dance competition (since our directors decided to not attend the Nationals this year) was earlier this month.     Though I always cheer for the kids, this performance was special for our family.   All of the performance teams were given a chance to join with the original competitive team and form a larger production number.   For us, it meant that all three of our children danced together for the first time–and probably the last.    This was one of those moments that they may not appreciate until much later, but I can cherish it for its worth right now.   They will perform this dance number again for their recital, but since this was a first competition for the youngest, it was well worth capturing.

Our youngest has such a different personality than our older two–much more extroverted and, at times, outrageous.    It was a long day for her, and she was sometimes silly,

sometimes sassy,

but always cognizant of where she was, what this meant to her and everyone else involved, and prepared to give a good show.  She practiced for hours each day!

Our son’s mood was more melancholy.   This might be his last year competing (more on that later), and so he embraced the day with his usual air of professionalism mixed with slight depression.

The normal competitive team has only 8 members.   I’m not accustomed to photographing so many kids!   Bless my poor oldest’s heart–I cut off her face trying to get a shot of more of the team!

Here is the smaller, original competitive team waiting for their awards.   They were, yet again, the only participants in their category–an automatic first place trophy.    The larger team was amazing–they placed 3rd out of 7 teams.    Way to go!

What’s Been Happening?

 Apparently, there are a number of bird watchers/ lovers in my midst.  It blessed me to “hear” from several of you and to watch the previous blog post get distributed, then redistributed, then… Thank you!    On top of all of that, as if the Lord said, “You ain’t seen nuthin’ yet,” the first red-breasted robin visited us soon after I published my last post!    Here he is, courtesy of http://www.encyclopedia.com.

The youngest will make Apologia’s “smart suet” this weekend so that we can see what else likes our yard.   I have a feeling that, given the weather we’re having, what will eat most of the suet is ants.

For the few of you who follow this blog regularly, you know that I’ve not been here in almost two weeks.    Things have been crazy, to say the least, and time to pen my thoughts has been non-existent.   Then, with my laptop already (and unexplainably) unable to connect to the Internet, our desktop  computer caught a virus, and we were severely limited in our ability to connect with all the folks in cyberspace.   It was a stark reminder of how plugged-in we are as a family.    Thankfully, we had everything back in a matter of days, with 5 people then lined up to accomplish all those online tasks that, left undone, gave us the shakes.    Restoring computers after a repair is painful–every password (even the ones that I don’t remember!), every favorite, and every bookmark had to be reset.  Yet, praise God for technology that works.   Personally, I have three posts in draft stage–I’ve got lots to say!

We’ve had other life events occur as well.    As I mentioned before, February begins our competition season.   Our older two’s first outing was at the end of February.    This year’s ballet costume, I think, is absolutely beautiful.

BTW, our daughter has on this much make-up because of what stage lights do to the face.

This is her on a normal day.     Of course, I think she’s the loveliest teen on the planet.   Apparently, at least one young man thinks the same, and he has asked her dad if he can escort her to one of the area’s homeschool proms.    There are three–can you believe that?!     While we pick out dress patterns and discuss potential hairstyles, I am fighting a mild bit of depression and angst as I realize that she’s my not-so-little girl anymore.    I speak quite often about college, but it’s still far enough out there that I feel good about advanced planning.   But the prom.    The prom.    I still remember my own proms.   I still remember my dresses, where we ate, and my dates–Marcus Mitchell (11th grade), and Marvin ? (12th grade).    I’m struggling with her growing up.   Oh, saints, I covet your prayers.

Appreciating the Season, Loving the Reason

 I love this season.   I love the music of the season, whether it’s a majestic “Hark, How the Bells,” a tranquil “Silent Night,” or the fun of trying to remember what my true love gave to me on each of the “12 Days of Christmas.”   It’s always hilarious how no one forgets the partridge in the pear tree, or the five golden rings?    I love spending time with family, and I love the extra affection put onto each plate on Christmas Day.

Having said that, I wish I felt more “Christmas-y” this year.   Jamie spoke of the trend of dwindling Christmas cards, and I concur.   Of course, I’ve yet to send out my own holiday cards.

This year, we’re traveling out of town immediately after Christmas, so we chose not to decorate since we won’t be here to enjoy it.   Besides, the money we normally spend on a Christmas tree is the money that we could spend on a tank of gas.

The lack of Christmas ritual might not be helping me, but that’s really not it.    Every year, I fight the tendency to overload myself with activity such that I have time to just rest and reflect.     This year, I’ve lost the fight.     Just this weekend, I turned down 2 parties so that we could relax at home; then the kids informed me that they have a party at church on Sunday afternoon.    Oh, well, so much for that relaxation strategy, huh?

And our poor kids.   It’s been a busy time for them, too.   In fact, today is our last day at school, and the kids just simply dragged.   They’ve had good reason.     In one weekend alone, they performed in two parades.     I posted on last year some thoughts about the parades, the true meaning of Christmas, and how good it felt to walk through our little country town saying, “Merry Christmas” during this politically correct age in which we now live.    My opinions haven’t changed, but I did update the pictures as all three of our treasures marched this year rather than only the oldest.

    This year’s team features six tinier tikes, including our youngest.   They range in age from 5-7 years of age.   The parade walking took more out of them, but they made it.

The older kids were regular veterans at the venues this year.

There was also the Christmas play, in which the older two were choreographers, and our son danced–a tap number to Mary Mary’s big-band sounding rendition of “He’s the Greatest.”

Personally, I’m determined to quiet my spirit and just spend some time loving on the Lord.   So, with school over today and dance over as of last week, I consider this my time for me and the Lord.    Every time I think about it, I just stop and say, “thank you.”   Because of our trip out of town, my normal fasting into the new year will not happen, but I’m still believing Him to speak to me regarding direction for 2011.     I’m told it will be a good season, though I’m not sure of what the details of that word mean.   While that prophecy unfolds, I’m excited about next week–about loving on the Father, operating in faith by executing some plans that have collected dust, and basking in the Word.     May God bless your plans as well.