Beach trip, history class, PA shopping

I’ve had a few lovely and busy days!

On Monday we had a trip to the beach.  I planned this for May for our homeschooling group but the weather didn’t cooperate so I had to cancel.  I rescheduled it for this week to take advantage of the off season rates while the weather was still warm, and this time the weather was perfect – it was a beautiful day and I enjoyed it so much!  We had five families there with less than 25 kids, so it was a nice group but not huge.  We had the beach to ourselves and I found it soooo relaxing – the sun, the water, the wind – ahhh.  Perfect for kids and adults after the inside energy of a three day holiday.  I was feeling a little uptight when we left the house at the thought of all I had to do this week, and within a few minutes of getting there that had just disappeared.  And as a beautiful bonus, I was able to do tashlich while there, which to quote another mother “totally elevated” the beach outing.

Then on Tuesday we left the house early in the morning for the first history class of the year.  It’s an hour away (without traffic) and I was a little apprehensive about how much longer it would take with traffic, since the highway I take gets majorly backed up right around where I’d be. But we seemed to pretty much miss most of the traffic.  Ds8, dd9, ds11, and dd14 went to the class while I took the littles to the library.  Once there we participated in two different story hours, which helped pass the time (the history class is 2.5 hours).

Just as we were leaving, the librarian gave me coupons for free donuts at Dunkin Donuts.  She said that they were sent as a prize for the summer reading club but they were significantly delayed and only arrived that day, and they were only valid until the next day.  When she explained  she was giving them out because she didn’t want them to go to waste, I asked if I could have coupons for the older four kids; she said dd14 would be too old for the reading club and they only wanted to give to kids who would technically be old enough, so she very generously gave us 6 total.

Then we headed back to pick up the other kids, and spent about forty minutes talking with the historian.  He offers a writing option for kids who are interested, and dd14 discussed this with him.  She is excited about doing this, as she really wants to improve her writing skills, and it’s very apparent that this will be challenging – “the goal of the program is to improve the student’s ability to write substantive, coherent, and precise historical papers. Depending on the student’s initial capabilities, this may include short, medium, and long papers that are informative, analytical, and thesis-based. ” He stresses that each student work to his own ability, strive to improve, and that there’s no competition between any of the students.

While we were driving to the next place, the kids were all talking about how interesting the class was and sharing lots of information they learned.  I’m looking forward to sitting in on the class next week – I don’t know how he simultaneously kept my 8 year old and high schooler interested for 2.5 hours, with only a five minute break!  It seems almost inaccurate to call it a class since that conjures up mental images of forced boredom and note taking, and this was all about engaged learning.   He told the kids that if they need to walk out, just to leave, not to worry about asking permission, very different from school-type rules.  He treats them like they want to be there, and they do!  It’s very gratifying for me that the kids enjoyed this so much – though I expected that they would and I signed them up because I felt it would be a fantastic learning experience, I can’t say they were initially very enthusiastic about it.  Not at all.  So it’s really nice that they now share my positivity about it and look forward to future classes, rather than feeling like I was dragging them to something they’d find boring and hard to sit through.

From there we were only 20 minutes from my dh’s workplace, but since it was too early to pick him up, I took the kids to a fantastic park just a few minutes from him.  I’d never been there and the kids really liked it – it was huge and had lots of different play structures – they felt we didn’t stay long enough to explore them much so I told them we’ll go back soon.  Then we picked up dh from work, stopped at the library on the way home to pick up some books I had on hold, and the kids piled out to look for books.  Dd14 and ds11 both wanted to get books that were mentioned in passing in their history class, Robinson Crusoe and Treasure Island.

Close to our home there is a kosher Dunkin Donuts and we stopped there for a free treat before finally heading home for dinner – the six coupons were perfect since the oldest five kids each got one and the littlest two shared one.  It was a very busy day and it was the substantial planning I did the night before that made it a day that everyone (including me!) enjoyed from start to finish.  (Yes, I’m patting my own back but it was a lot of work and it’s good to acknowledge when your efforts make a difference – and you can’t always wait for others to tell you how valuable what you did was!)

Then this morning we had another fairly early start.  We headed to PA for some shopping with the littles in tow (the last few times they’ve stayed with their grandparents for the day, which they all enjoy, but my inlaws aren’t around for a couple of weeks so that wasn’t an option).  I made sure to leave time at each stop for the littles to run around and play – they especially enjoyed when we bought our eggs.  They went down to the pond to watch the geese, played with the 11 week old puppy, went to the barn to see the turkeys (dd9 tried to catch and hold one – she managed to almost get a hold on it before it escaped – she is really good with animals, which is probably obvious since turkeys are kind of intimidating to think of holding :lol:), and then looked at the thirty cows they bought since our last visit.   Our stop to buy eggs took 45 minutes because of all of this!

Ds16months is an easy going little boy but has always had a very hard time with car travel, which was my initial incentive to ask my mother-in-law if she could babysit him when I do my monthly shopping, which involves hours of driving  But today he did great – enjoyed his awake time, slept, and in each directions woke up and started to cry just a few minutes from our destination. And remarkably we accomplished everything I set out to do and were home by 5 pm, which is amazing!  I was even able to be in time for my public speaking group a couple of hours later, something I wasn’t confident would be doable.

Tomorrow we have another full day planned, since our first co-op classes begin.  That won’t be until after lunch, though, so we’ll have the morning to have some quiet inside time.  Which we’ll especially enjoy after three days out of the house!


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