Friday, June 21, 2013

First Day of Summer

June 21st marks the beginning of the summer season! That long awaited time of year to be outside playing. That time of vacation, friends, smores over the fire, and catching lightning bugs. The time when both of my boys are anxious to get out there and start the fun.

The sun is shining. The sky is blue. The birds are out there making noise. There is a very nice amount of wind to keep things from getting too hot. So why is there no one outside and my boys are insisting on staying indoors?

Growing up for me meant being outside as much as possible, unless it was too hot. Or the boys would bother my girl friends and I. We'd be out for the majority of the day and we would be forced to come inside for lunch. Once that last bite was stuffed into our mouths, it was out that door like lightning!

Riding our bikes, playing all sorts of girlish imaginative games and often quite unimaginative sorts of things as well. We'd play house, Dukes of Hazzard where I was always Bo and Luke Duke for some reason. Maybe because I was always the tallest and guys are "always" taller than girls, at least in our young girlish eyes. We would torture my brother and his friends, which was always a good time for us girls.

We would go on adventures to the creek down the road and climb the fallen tree over to the "island" and be pirates, princesses left on the island to fend for ourselves, English Ladies on the ship taking us to far off places and many other games and adventures.

There were 2 problems with the island. The first is that it was accessible from land as long as you were wanting to wade in the ankle-deep water that was filled with cow poo, or were very good at the long jump. The second is this island was not quite big enough for 3 young girls to crowd on it together and have any space to move, unless one of us would sit on the branches of a tree.

Being young, it didn't bother us unless were aboard ship.  That became an issue because two of us had to be the crew and the last was always playing some sort of girly-girl, meaning she couldn't get dirty, wet or work. This usually meant that our adventure had come to a quick end and we would begin the adventure of getting off the island. This usually involved the youngest of our group falling into knee-deep water, terrified that she was going to drown. Being a most tomboyish girl there, I would go to the rescue. Sounds pretty daring and adventurous until you factor in that the fallen tree was only 2 feet above the knee-deep water of a girl and just a helping hand to "gently" force the girl to stand up. At this point, our conversation would nearly always end in an argument over where the drowning was actually an accident or on purpose.

On purpose. Just two little words that were completely filled with deep meaning for us children growing up. "Mom, _____ hit me... on PURPOSE" would come the cry. The rest of us would hold our breath, waiting for the outcome of this "new development." Another cry would be, "Mooooommmmm! _______ broke my toy... on PURPOSE!"

One of my favorite parts of the summer was vacation. In my family, this meant having campfires. We loved to sit around a campfire at night, dressed with as much skin covered as possible to keep the bugs off, which usually was only a slight deterrent. My mom and I would come back from our camping trip looking like we had some weird, funky disease that caused multitudes of red and pink splotches with a little bubble in them. (We don't' take too well to skeeter bites.)

Another favorite is catching lightning bugs at night. We'd search out as many as we could literally get our hands on to fill a too-large jar, that we had no realistic chance of filling with these bugs, even if it took all summer. But, try it we did. Every. Single. Summer.

Growing up and always outside in the summer, makes it very hard for me to figure out kids today. More times than not they are inside playing video or computer games. What is wrong with being outdoors? Even in the winter, we'd be outside playing all sorts of games and things in the snow. I realize that snow is something that is needed in the winter to play the plethora of snow games that we used to, so that does factor in. But summer? When and why did our childhoods of being outdoors turn into the new childhood where being indoors was more fun?

Drop me a comment below and let me know your thoughts. Seriously, what is so bad about being outside? Driving around, I see less and less children playing outdoors. If you have a big of a peeping-Tom in you, if you peek quickly - and innocently - into the main windows of the house, you can usually find at least one child playing inside the house.

God bless you, enjoy his beautiful summer days that he has created for us!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Sunshine and Bees

Can you believe that we are here in June already?! Time flies. Seems like it was May one day and I blinked and up popped June. Well, I guess it did. Anyway, only 3 more days of school for the boys until summer break. I can't wait!

There are so many things on my To-Do list with the boys. Parks, library trips, mini golf, museums, zoos, aquarium and Inner Harbor in Baltimore, and many other things. Filling in the "off" times are the times that the boys will be outside enjoying the sunshine. That is, if T-man can get over his fear of bees.

Bees. Buzz. Buzz. If he spots one across the yard, in the neighbor's yard, or thinks he may have seen one go flying by, he is in the house quicker than you can say BZZZZZ. Lightning legs. His feet have wings. Whatever words you use to describe the speed, he is Speedy Gonzalez.

Speaking of Speedy...the boys love the old Looney Tunes cartoons. It is a frequent show that we put on for them. As my dad says, "way back in the way back days..." 2001 to be exact, he taped as much of the June Bugs that was on Cartoon Network for us while Hubs and I were on our honeymoon. I believe we have 10-11 tapes. Good thing we still have a working VHS/DVD combo player! We need to get the Tunes put on DVD for future viewing before the tapes wear out or the player begins to not work.

J-boy was on a field trip last week that was a walking tour of our town. He was at the fire station, the community center, the veteran's memorial, "town hall" building, the library and another 2 places which I forget. He LOVED the library. The librarian showed all the kids where the chapter books are, the books for the younger brothers and sisters who she "knows they will all be reading to over the summer" and explained the working of the library. I have a form to take in with me tomorrow to make sure I filled it out properly because J-boy desperately wants/needs(!) his own library card. If it helps him be interested in reading, we're all for it!

To do what we can to prevent the dreaded summer slide, I will be working with the boys on reading and math with science thrown in for good measure. Since our vacation this year will be taking us west, I am putting together a couple unit studies on the places we will be visiting. (Mt. Rushmore and the Black Hills National Forest, Badlands National Park, Bighorn National Forest, Yellowstone National Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, Million Dollar Highway - Colorado section, Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods.)

I'm including reading of course, but throwing science in which will be pretty easy considering the topics! J-boy is interested in keeping a travel journal anyway so I'll be encouraging him to keep it up and add some "school-ish" notes and things. I need to find a cheap camera that the boys can use that will hopefully allow them to document the things they are interested in to add to their journals. They want to draw some plants, do some leaf/bark/stone rubbings which will add art to the mix and you know that I will find a way to get some math in there as well. I have my fact sheets ready to be printed which will help a lot.

We are all looking forward to getting on the road for the road trip. We usually have a good one about every other year or so. Our last big trip was back in 2010 so we're over due in a way. We flew out to Seattle and rented a car to visit 9 different National Parks/Forests. Lot of time in the car but everyone LOVED it.

Also during the summer, T-man will be getting some reading tutoring and we are still working on getting the list of teachers who will be the grade 2 tutors for reading in hopes of getting J-boy some help. My main goal for this summer is to have fun with my boys, and with daddy when he is not working.

My other goal is a bigger one. The summer is my chance to "prove" that my relationship with the boys is good enough for me to be a homeschooling mama, which I would dearly love! I have lots of ideas which the boys have approved and a lot of fun ideas so that they won't realize they are learning as much. Got to make it fun. This is an area that I could use prayer in specifically. I believe whole-heartedly that I can do it. Proving to hubs and the boys that I can will be the challenge. There are some behavioral issues on the boys part and a temper issue with me. Everyday is a challenge to breathe in, breathe out, not yell and get snippy. The boys and I have a deal. When mommy starts "seeing red" I am supposed to let them know before I blow my top and they will do whatever they can to keep me from having steam out the ears. When they start really pushing it, I am supposed to let them know as well and give them fair warning and a split-second, no nonsense, hopefully no yelling, reprimand and/or punishment depending on the situation. If that makes absolutely no sense, it is probably because it is nearly 11:00 pm and I'm shot.

Busywork activity books and puzzle books for while we're on the road along with their precious toys, of course. I also will be hitting up the Dollar Store and getting quite a few new things to bring out when the "old" toys are getting boring and they don't want to color or count certain colored vehicles, or any of the other car games we play. Secret stash needs to be hidden, and hidden well for the ride back home too to prevent their daddy and I from going nuts and wanting to drive off the edge of the road.

One of our trips, on the way home T-man screamed and was flailing his arms and legs the entire way from I-83 in York to our house in Mountville. Not the greatest distance but just try it with a tantrum-ing 3 year old. Seems A LOT longer than what it is.

We have been picking up tricks and things since we take the boys to the Outer Banks in NC nearly every year. In fact, it seems that this year will be the first time in six years that we will not be going there. Our first year was back before T-man was even born, in 2006. That was the year we needed to get out of the area and just be a family after we lost Aaron. Our family favorite place to vacation. We rented a house - the Shore Boy - which was on the Sound. Beautiful! Peaceful. Fun. It was what we desperately needed and more than we hoped for. We've been back to the OBX every year since. We usually stay in different houses but usually within the Avon/Salvo/Waves/Rodanthe area.

Anyway, I need sleep.

God's blessings to you, my friends.