Friday, July 3, 2009

Beginning of summer ?

Is it really the beginning of July?

It seems more like the beginning of summer rather than the middle, but that might be due to the extended June gloom that has hovered over our part of LA for the last month. I have actually been wearing a sweatshirt more than shorts. But it’s finally warming up and beginning to feel like summer. Yeah!

Beach Days

The kids and I have started going to the beach every Tuesday afternoon where we meet with a random group of other homeschooling families for “beach day” -- a nice new variation of the now established weekly homeschooling tradition of “park day.”

It is especially fun for my 10-year-old because I let her swim further out when she is with friends, which means I don't have to get in the water. (California water is just too cold for me.)

Summer Camps

The kids went to a VBS/ Soccer camp last week and really enjoyed it, so this week I signed them up for a couple more similar programs. It is a new experience for me to drop them off at a park or church and come back a few hours later. But I think it’s good.

I had thought last week might be a little glimpse into what it would be like to be a “school family,” with getting up early and pushing everyone out the door by 9 a.m. And in some ways it was. But it certainly demystified any illusions I had about what I could do with 2-3 hours of “alone” time.

I had thought I would reorganize every junk drawer/closet in our home and maybe re-write my abandoned screenplay. But I didn’t.

I spent a couple days running errands, doing the household chores that keep the family going. The other three days I spent time doing things I can’t do as well with other people around: reading, writing, and just being quiet.

At first it took time to adjust to not “doing” something during daylight hours. Sitting behind the couch in the middle of the morning “being still” doesn’t make me feel like a productive citizen, but once I came to terms with my own need for silence and stillness, I was really grateful for the time.

I also started re-reading Bruchko, a biography about missionary Bruce Olson who, as a teenager, left his middle-class life in Minnesota and walked into the jungle where he completely assimilated into a tribal community.

My dad read the book out-loud to our family when I was about 12. And I read it myself in college, but I have not read it since then, so I wanted to re-read it and see if my reaction to the story has changed in response to my own life experiences.

For the most part, I still find it very inspiring. There is something about this man’s lack of conventional religious structure and deep personal faith that still speaks to me. More thoughts on that later …

Homeschooling on the Run

A few people have asked me if we are taking a break from homeschooling for the summer. Not really. We are trying new things, improvising old. But we kind of do that continually anyhow.

One new thing we have recently discovered is an audio-based spelling program produced by the Institute for Excellence in Writing. We have not been doing any kind of formal spelling program in more than a year, but we might stick with this one.

Because the program uses study cards and CDs, my daughter discovered she could “do” spelling lessons while we were running errands. It must seem like a game to her because she seems to really enjoy it and often does several lessons at a time. My son created his own way of participating. He writes the first letter of every word in a notebook.

Spelling on the way home from the beach.

Our 7-year-old recording his first album at a "Rock star party," part of a bring-your-kids-to-work day at Kip's day job. I'm sure this will only further confuse this kid's understanding of his father's profession. Is he a computer engineer or a rock star?

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