Something big happened today.
For the first time since I started homeschooling (8 years ago!) I declared this week that we are going to take Summer Vacation.
In the past, I've avoided it. I hate the thought of them forgetting the last 6 months' work for the sake of 3 months off school. Instead, we've taken one or two week long vacations throughout the year, when we just felt like we needed it. It's always worked well and we've always been happy with that arrangement.
But things change. Kids get older and busier, life situations take new turns, and needs change. And right now, we NEED a break. A really, really long one. One that involves sleepovers on the trampoline, staying up late, sleeping in, and not keeping any kind of schedule. And for those of you who know me and how much I really, honestly adore schedules, you'll realize that's a pretty serious thing to say.
Once upon a time, I started this blog and named it "The Little Things" because I wanted to focus on all the wonderful, mundane things that made our lives special in my eyes. I keep losing those things. Life is a game of Tetris, trying to fit in school, farm work, house work, extra curricular activities, and whatever else needs to be done into the finite number of hours each day offers. And I'm tired. They're tired. We aren't enjoying these days like we should be.
Having "big kids" is a whole different ball game than the Two Little Girls I used to write about each day. Those Two Little Girls are now Two Little Ladies, and they have lives of their own that I'm struggling to keep up with while I'm still trying to live mine, and somehow keep them all intertwined the way I feel like they need to be.
I've spent time over the past year prioritizing and re-prioritizing, and something clicked for me this spring. Math, English, History, Science... those things are officially off the top ten list. Cora is reading now, above grade level and has (mostly) mastered her math facts. In homeschooling, that is a HUGE hump to get over. It's time for a break. We've earned it.
I have goals for this summer, though. It's not all going to be days of freedom, traipsing around the property in the sunshine. (Thought plenty of that is certainly on the to-do list.) We will focus on real life. The girls will be cooking, cleaning, practicing animal husbandry and gardening. We will spend time each day reading our Bibles and doing what we call "Character Study" - which I am convinced is even more important that finding common denominators in fractions. We will put everything we have into their 4-H projects, from art and knitting and sewing to raising poultry, training dogs, and riding horses. They will spend this summer learning how to learn, learning to follow through with difficult tasks, learning to put others before themselves, and learning how to be responsible for themselves and their actions. Those things are things schools forget about sometimes, but they are what makes life good and worthwhile.
It's also going to be a summer spent forming habits. I have a list of habits I want them to form, and a list I want to form myself. I want them to read every day, no matter what it is. I want them to help someone else each day, so that some day it becomes natural to them. I want them to start looking for what needs to be done and do it without being asked. I want the house to stay clean and the food to be cooked from scratch and the dishes to be washed. Above all else, I am raising Two Little Ladies to become excellent wives and mothers. They need skills that aren't going to be found in any curriculum, and they need attitudes that allow them to accomplish tasks with joy.
As for me, I want to teach myself to approach every task in my life with love, joy, and gratitude. I want to model those things for my girls. I want to take time each day for myself and my own hobbies, something I have been ignoring since we moved here. I want to show myself and my children the value in helping and giving to others. And I want blogging and taking daily photos to become habit again. I want to document these sweet, precious moments in their lives - in our lives. They may not be toddlers anymore, saying adorable things and just starting to experience the world. But each day of their lives should be treasured because honestly, they are flying by much faster than I am comfortable with.
So here we go - welcome to Summer Vacation 2016!