Archives for posts with tag: traditions

ImageThe Boy had a pretty incredible summer. The Summer 2013 Bucket List kept us busy. I’m grateful for the preplanning, as there were days we both woke up, bleary eyed and still tired from the previous days activities. We were able to visit with family, quite often, and B took his first solo trip cross country to visit his beloved Titi Brenda. That trip was the highlight of his summer, for sure.

As summer wound down we became hibernating bears, per se. We could see on the calendar the first day of school quickly approaching, the bucket list was pretty empty of promises of full days of fun stuff, and, let’s be honest, we just wanted to veg. We’d tumble out of bed, all kinds of late, snuggle on the coach and discuss the day ahead. More often than not we’d opt for a movie, or video games, or endless nerf wars that found me the loser more often than the victor. We played board games, and card games, and we’d toss the ball around outside, all with lots of quiet time thrown in for good measure.

As much as I’ve loved the freedom of summer, the not-scheduled-amazingness-of-it-all, I was looking forward to the rhythm of the school year. Through the haze of my hibernating phase, as I’d peek out of the covers and lament it was time to prepare dinner, or as we’d collapse after a long bout of nerf wars and I couldn’t bring myself to clean up, let alone tell the The Boy to, I was thinking ahead to the way my days would just fall into place on The Schedule. Plus, I had some pretty neat new curriculum choices we’re both pretty excited about.

So yesterday we found ourselves facing our first day. B was super excited because he knew I had some pretty special things planned. I like to make a big commotion of certain things, and the first day of school is high on that list.

Homeschooling never crossed my mind when I was younger. Thinking back to my own experiences with the first day of school the things I looked forward to the most were the new clothes, shoes, and school supplies. But that doesn’t apply so neatly to B’s experience with school. We purchase new clothes and shoes as needed (and The Boy’s feet change size so rarely that we don’t find ourselves purchasing new ones that often). We have so many school supplies that year to year I rarely purchase new ones, unless you count new notebooks and reams of lined paper. So The Boy doesn’t get excited if I ever go “back to school” shopping. It’s just another errand Mom has to run, in his eyes.

So what’s a homeschooler to do, when new clothes and shoes and supplies don’t hold the promise and excitement they do for kids who attend “traditional” school? I make that first day of school a wee bit more exciting and special than all the other days. And a wee bit more laid back.

There’s no homework the first week of school (yup, The Boy has school work he manages on his own time, outside of our scheduled meet up time). We may not cover every subject fully, aiming more for a relaxed approach as we ease back into schedule.

But more than that, there are some special things we do.

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I decorate the house the night before or the morning of. I put up streamers, make a big banner, and otherwise make the house look festive. B loves coming down the stairs to discover what I’ve done to the place.

 

ImageThis year I brought out the tablecloth, set the table with our nicer plates, and even brought out Brooks’s sister’s glasses she gifted us a few years back she made. I’m always leery of using them because I’m afraid we’ll break them.

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We always have a special breakfast: this year, by B’s request, crepes with homemade whipped cream. Over breakfast, The Boy opened up a small present from us ( two packs of cards he collects, a notebook for him to write down ideas for games he wants to develop, etc). Nothing big or fancy or expensive, plus, with saving money on school shopping it didn’t seem like too much of splurge, though for him it was as he’s only used to getting stuff on a few occasions throughout the year. 

ImageAfter breakfast, and a quick-ish cleanup after we doused The Boy with silly string

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Imagewe began our school day.

I am so grateful for B’s diligence during the school day. He really loves learning, he loves discussing new subjects or topics, and is typically eager to go beyond what I ask him. He’s a hard worker for sure.

ImagePart of our first day yearly traditions is working on our time capsule for the school year. And we always kick that off with a questionnaire that I print out for The Boy to fill out. So that’s it not an assignment, per se, I always read him the questions and type out his responses. At the end of the school year I ask him the same questions again and it’s always fun to see how his answers differ or stay the same. We also note his height and weight, as well as likes and dislikes, but some questions are more in depth, and those are the ones I really like hearing his responses to.

I always try to include something fun, as well. We began our nature study yesterday, which The Boy really loved. I also included something fun just for the sake of fun: a scavenger hunt, with clues made by yours truly. Each clue brought him to a new clue and at each clue he picked up three cards from the same pack of cards I had bought for his small present (the tin I bought had several cards in them, so I split them up).

This was one of the highlights for B, for sure. He was so excited to discover each new clue and would race around trying to figure out riddle and the new location. I’m really glad I took the time to put this together because he was totally into this.

ImageImageImageFinally, after an almost full day of school (we skimped on very little, as he was really motivated to get stuff done), we ended the day with a card game with D.Brooks, dinner while we played, and a Surprise Ride.

I found the idea of a surprise ride on the internet, somewhere, I can’t remember where. But the premise is that you yell Surprise Ride! and everyone has a minute to get to the car for the Surprise Ride. B was so excited to find out where we were going. As was D.Brooks, since I didn’t share it with him.

We ended the night with ice cream treats from The DQ (the location of our surprise ride), and this momma ended the night tired, but content, that our first day was such a rousing success!

I’m so grateful for new beginnings, for firsts, for new memories made, and the ability to enjoy them fully.

Yay for fifth grade!

Our weekly schedule board, a repurposed old frame with chalk board paint on the inside

Our weekly schedule board, a re-purposed old frame with chalk board paint on the inside

Those who know me best know how much I love traditions. Growing up my family had a few, and I relished them wholeheartedly, and even created some of my own. For example, every Christmas Eve I would pitch a tent in my room, smuggle in snacks and drinks, load it with books, a light source, and the hope that this year I would finally see Santa Claus. Now a few things happened: I never did see Santa (huge disappointment for a little girl – but I also understood that’s how things worked), I continued to do so even after I figured out the secret of Santa, AND lastly, but most importantly, I saw how sweet the repeating of traditions could be, even with heartache in the mix.

The military is full of it’s own traditions. And quite honestly, growing up I dreamed of being a soldier myself. My dad was in the Army and I loved living on military bases and traveling. It appealed to me. But of course, my little heart condition prevented that from happening (Big Brooks says he’s glad). Can you all imagine me in the military? I think I would have made an exemplary soldier (I’m just saying!). But it’s the traditions we keep, amidst all the deployments, the training, the schools, the sometimes wacky schedule, that cement us as a family. It doesn’t matter if we’re 1,000 miles from “home” or from those we love, our traditions bind us, make us stronger, and quite frankly are looked forward to. Big Brooks thinks it’s silly when I’ll come up with an idea and quickly, and with exuberance declare (typically with eyes shining and a perma-grin exploded across my face), “NEW TRADITION!” How can it be a tradition, he declares, when it’s yet to be repeated? He doesn’t understand the magic, I think, of creating something new to be shared year after year with those we love. Now of course, I’d understand his sentiment if went declaring every little ol’ thing traditions and then never kept them (but I don’t, so I do).

And so since yesterday was Sunday that meant a few things one of which was that Sunday is our Family Meeting Night. I would never have thought to hold a family meeting. Gosh, it seemed silly to me. Why do that? We’re always together.  I gab all the time. I listen. What more do we need? But then a few months ago we attended a Family Retreat hosted by the Chaplain’s office after moving here to VA. And one of the things they shared families should do is host a family meeting. And so at the retreat we did so. And it became clear to me that A. I don’t listen as well as I think I do (I think I gab too much mayhaps?) B. I don’t always LISTEN (i.e. process the information and retain it). and C. As much gabbing as I usually do I don’t always share with Big Brooks the stuff he needs to know in terms of what happens at home when he’s gone. I think this is deployment related. After five deployments I’ve become incredibly good at parenting alone AND managing the household and crisis that may appear. I became so accustomed to taking care of things myself I forgot my beau is home and he wants to be told these things and wants to know and wants to be part of the process.

On top of that, The Boy loves discussing his feelings so this was a win win for all of us. True story.

Our family meetings consist of reviewing what was said at the last meeting and discussing rules (no wording of complaints in an ugly way, no speaking when someone else has the floor, etc). Then we move into Things We Need to Work On (one by one) and Things We Are Doing Well. Lastly we discuss the upcoming week’s schedule so we all know what’s happening and can discuss any scheduling conflicts either one of us (DBrooks or I) may not be aware of. Little B loves our family meetings. He feels that each part must be done, so even if there are no Things We Need to Work On he’ll mention something we can’t possibly change but which he sorely wishes we had control over. I love the Things We Need to Work on because we are all so positive and supportive that lo and behold the following week whatever it was is typically taken care of. And the Things We Are Doing Well really allows us to lift each other up and see any progress being made.

I sometimes wonder which traditions we hold My Little Boy will take with him to his family some day. And some day I hope to be part of new traditions  he’s created for his family.

Life surely remains sweet.