We've been super busy relaxing these past two weeks, our final weeks of summer break. There was a hike to Spruce Flat Falls with friends and kids. Our "let's do lots of hikes!" ended up being only this one hike, but still—it's one hike in the Smokies, one afternoon that we all got to breathe in the mountains and river.
There was a whole day of tubing on the river with our homeschooling group's teen group. That's Duncan on his third trip and Laurel and her boyfriend, Daniel, finishing up for the day. We moms put our chairs right on the river bank under a big, shady tree and talked. All day.
There was a weekend trip to Charlotte to visit Randy's brother and his wife in their new house—the one with a pool and hot tub. The kids each brought a friend, there was lots of good food (that's Randy and Cindy making pasta), a fabulous afternoon thrift shopping, and, most of all, we got to spend that one last weekend with some of our favorite people.
And Randy and I woke up early on Wednesday morning to bike around Cades Cove. The 11-mile loop is closed off to car traffic on Wednesday and Saturday mornings. It was a beautiful ride, although the fog obscured the views for the first half of it. We saw four bears up in trees, and bear spottings always enrich a trip to the mountains!
And there was a trip to the NASCAR speed park in Pigeon Forge as a final end-of-summer trip for the boys. This is one of those touristy things that we rarely do—Duncan has done it once before as part of a field trip—so this was a big deal to the boys. They had a blast (that's Duncan and Emery below), and Diane and I got to spend a whole day just talking.
We still have a tubing trip and a camping trip planned for later this month, but our co-op classes start back on Monday, so this is the last official week of break for us. I'm not ready, but I never am.
It's funny. When I posted this picture on Facebook of our oldest loading up his car to move into his own first apartment, lots of comments went along the lines of comforting me for how sad I must be. Aw. I have such nice friends.
But I'm not sad. Or I wasn't until his sister said, "But it's the last time we'll live in the same house." I didn't really think of it like that. I am really, truly happy for him.
This is what we do. We raise them up. We teach them how to be nice people, how to brush their teeth, how to make a grilled cheese sandwich. How to dress and make phone calls and drive to the grocery store. How to put gas in the car, write an essay, fill out a job application. How to study and change a light bulb and tie their shoes.
I mean, he couldn't tie his shoes until he was eight.
But we don't think about those kinds of things on weeks like this. You don't think about how he would stand on the cedar chest looking out the window, waiting for his Daddy to get home from school. You don't think about his yellow rainboots splashing in puddles or about him sprawled on his belly in the middle of the soccer field, looking at bugs while his teammates kicked around the soccer ball. You cannot, whatever you do, think about how he and his little sister would put all their Beanie Babies into a big circle and have a Beanie Baby meeting, of which his KooKoo owl was always the leader. And Vinnie the Lionfish—bless him. He wasn't a Beanie Baby, but he was the boss of all the animals. The wise one, that Vinnie.
We've been through all of that once already. Four years ago this week he left for college at 17. I thought my heart would break. I thought I would never stop sobbing. But I did.
And then, four years later, he graduated from college and came back and got a job and now he has an apartment with his friends. Because that is how it goes.
This is what we do. We raise them up and we send them off into the world, or at least across town, with our cast-off silverware and the old plates we got when we were first married and a stack of mismatched towels—the ones that are kinda stained and frayed. He takes the old coffee table and the mannequin legs that were ours in college, and he buys a couch from the Salvation Army. And boxes of books—boxes and boxes and boxes of books. He is our son, after all.
Our son. And then he's back 24 hours later, back to just stop in and say howdy on his way to work. He tells me about their first night in the apartment, about the big TV which his roommates must have and about how they had pizza and friends over last night.
"Did you feel so free?" I ask him.
He grins, really big. "YES! So free!"
The book is divided into two sections which are then divided into sections with many articles in each: Ages and Stages (covers preschool—teen and beyond) and Learning Resources (covers a multitude of topics from history and geography to special needs to help for mom and so much more). You can look at the Table of
Contents on the sale page but here are just a few of the chapters:
Keeping Babies and Toddlers Occupied While Homeschooling
Homeschooling Elementary Boys
Making Tweens and Teens More Independent Learners
Learning with Maps
Teaching a Foreign Language
Navigating from High School to College with a Dyslexic Child
Learning from Video Games
Active Learning Ideas for Kinesthetic Learners
Creating a Portfolio
Teaching a Subject You Don't Love
Homeschooling During Unemployment
Homeschooling the Perfectionist Child
and sooo many more!
I have had a copy of this book for a few weeks now and still haven't finished reading everything in it. The sheer magnitude of the wisdom, advice, and ideas included here is astonishing. It's like having a room full of veteran homeschoolers sharing what works for them available to you at any time!
Once you buy The Big Book of Homeschooling Ideas, you can download it right
away as an ebook for your computer, iPad, tablet, laptop, smart phone,
etc. (I have 2 articles in here: one about teaching creative writing and
one is my series about "what college profs wish freshmen knew.")