At this time last week, I was - except for background noise from the TV - alone in my quiet house. My family was braving what turned out to be a pretty chilly night up at Peninsula State Park on the Father-Child Campout sponsored by our local homeschool association, which - along with the Father-Daughter Dance in February - is a highlight of their year.
With it being their fourth year at it, they're old pros now. Jeff took the day off work, and they headed out just after lunch.
They made sure to pitch their tent next to Mr. Kampen, a friend and fellow church member with whom the girls love talking. Then they got the lay of the land and began the important business of climbing trees and checking out the waterfront.
On Saturday morning, everyone participated in a trivia contest. Abigail ended up on Jeff's team, and they officially won - no surprise if you know Jeff's penchant for remembering bits of data from across the intellectual spectrum. However, Rachel's team - headed by Mr. Kampen - would have won if he'd only listened to Rachel when she gave the real name (Jonas Grumby) of the captain on Gilligan's Island. I suppose he's now learned that he ought to believe a Hollenbeck girl when she speaks up!
In the afternoon, the entire crew - about 45 altogether - biked into town to enjoy ice cream at Not Licked Yet, the most well-known custard place on the peninsula. The girls had first undertaken the seven-mile round trip last year so this time it was pretty easy - except for the fact that it proved they will both be needing bigger bikes next spring.
That evening, they enjoyed a bonfire, roasted marshmallows, and s'mores before hitting the hay pretty early. And then on Sunday morning, Mr. Lehto, the trip's organizer, cooked his traditional pancake and porkie breakfast for everyone before they all packed up to head home.
Jeff said he most enjoyed relaxing around the fire with one or both of the girls on his lap. Rachel most liked the bike ride. And Abigail thought the best part was cuddling up with her daddy in the tent.
On Monday, the girls and I "left for Canada" on our continuing year-long exploration of the world. They enjoyed painting with maple leaf stencils, learning a fun Canadian song called "Going Over the Sea," and being introduced to the names and locations of the 10 Canadian provinces and three territories. And, in purposing to memorize the locations myself (since I'd never been required to do so in my own schooling), I experienced one of the sweetest blessings of home education: learning something new right along with my children.
Rachel finished her latest book, Amelia Earhart, Young Air Pioneer, and - appropriately - chose to create a Missing Person Poster as her project. On Friday night, she summarized the book and shared her poster with us.
On Monday, the little girls arrived all decked out in matching Packer outfits, and I couldn't resist snapping this photo of my little "twins."
Throughout the week, I focused with them on the sound for the letter L and, along with that, we learned a lot about leaves and plants. They also did some leaf painting, used leaves in various counting activities, and delighted in dancing around to "All Around the Mulberry Bush" every day.
The week's key truth was, "I will live and grow in Jesus," and I really liked the curriculum's object lesson: Using a real plant, I explained how God is like the plant and we are like the leaves. If the leaves stay with the plant, they'll be nourished and live. But, if they "run away" from the plant - I plucked off two leaves to demonstrate - they will have a very different outcome. And then we observed the withering and death of those two leaves every day for the rest of the week, a process that clearly saddened both Anna and N. and which, I think, helped them to grasp the spiritual truth on their level of understanding.
I published two pieces this week, which I hope you'll read now if you haven't already: