Grandma died - at the ripe age of 98! - almost 10 years ago. And, of course, none of her siblings are still around. But the tradition has continued with Jeff's parents and his dad's siblings taking turns playing host. Attendance varies from year to year, and no one stays much past the potluck lunch, but I enjoy seeing some of Jeff's surviving aunts and uncles because all his relatives have been very sweet to me over the years. And this year, I particularly enjoyed introducing Rachel to Uncle Bob, a still-quite-spry World War II vet, because I've referenced him several times as the girls and I have had occasion to discuss that war.
The girls were also able to see two of their cousins, Olivia and Annalise. In fact, the four of them spent a good deal of time playing at the park near our gathering spot.
*****And then Monday was a very big day for us: our first day "not back to school" (a.k.a., the start of a new academic term in our home education program), which I've written more about here.
Of course, we continued that through the rest of the week. But I love the flexibility of home education and the work God has done with me in that area lately. We had lovely weather all week - probably the first all summer without storms or excessive sogginess - and I was able to readily adjust my original plans to take that into account. So, though we normally do academics in the morning and have free time in the afternoon, this week we ate breakfast and had devotions on the deck each day, and I allowed the girls to play outside till lunch. Then we did bookwork - and just the absolutely necessary tasks - in the afternoons when it was a bit muggy outside.
By Friday, we all agreed we prefer our usual schedule long-term - and I know I can't always do the "bare bones." But I was so glad to have the ability and the desire to let my kids be kids on some beautiful summer days.
As far as what we did do, I stuck to a modified schedule for our core curriculum, Exploring Countries and Cultures (ECC), and also made sure we did reading, math, and piano practice each day. We did a bit of spelling, typing, and Spanish, and Jeff did an art lesson with them on Thursday night and continued to read aloud The Secret Garden at bedtime, a book they all enjoy.
For their own reading, Rachel started The Secret School, a piece of realistic fiction by Avi. And Abigail read Capyboppy by Bill Peet, the first of two humorous books she'll do this month. Both are a step up from the level of difficulty the girls have been reading up until now; I was impressed with how each rose to the occasion and really enjoyed the stories.
In terms of ECC, we particularly enjoyed:
- learning a song called "Hello to All the Children of the World," a very catchy tune we all found ourselves singing at random moments through the week;
- using an orange to demonstrate the difficulties of map-making (i.e., a map drawn on a flat surface can never accurately represent everything on the globe);
- doing some mapwork (labeling the seven continents, the equator, and the northern and southern hemispheres);
- and examining our backyard habitat.
*****I was also happy to find time - in the mornings while the girls frolicked in the great weather! - to reorganize our home library and my office, both tasks I've been wanting to tackle for a long time. Plus, I found a very cool 30-day blog challenge from Secret Keeper Girl, which now has me praying specifically for both the girls each day; if you have daughters, I encourage you to join in, too.
*****And on Friday, Jeff and I celebrated our anniversary - a milestone one for me. I marked it with a brief reflection on our years together, and then that evening all four of us - because all our babysitters were otherwise occupied! - enjoyed a picnic at the botanical garden.
*****In terms of writing this week, I:
- joined a home education blog hop and detailed our curriculum in Not Back to School Blog Hop: Curriculum Week;
- described our first day back in Happy "New Year" to Us!;
- posted my latest Celebrate Kids article, It's That Time of Year, Teachers!;
- shared a funny cartoon in In Honor of "Not Back to School" Time for Some of Us;
- wrote the anniversary piece, Happy Anniversary to Us: A Milestone.