Summer 2019 – Days 10-14 – Dance and Soccer Camps

Checking in!

The crisis started when I realized I had signed my children up for three different camps which all started at the exact same time. Two were on opposite ends of the county from each other.

A missed connection for early drop off meant that out of three children, only 1 arrived on time.

These camps are physical for the children. The girls are dancing for 8 hours a day and my son is out running for 3 hours in the heat for soccer. They all come back very tired at the end of the day.

As for me, it is a LOT of driving. I am hoping I will learn next year how to better plan my summer camps. This week is not going to be my greatest success but I still think we will have great things to show for it.

I wrote the text above when we started the week. My most memorable experience from this week was picking my son up from soccer on Monday. I asked him how camp was and he said something like “Pretty good.” I said, “I’m glad. Maybe when you come back tomorrow . . . ” My son interrupted, “WHAT?!?! I have to come back tomorrow?!?” He then collapsed on the ground in complaint.

I am glad to report that the next day went much better and that by the end of the week there were no more complaints.

Meanwhile the girls managed to avoid injury and learn so much. My younger daughter was with a group of Russian ballet instructors and managed to learn 4 dances from the Nutcracker: Russian, Arabian, Chinese and character dances.

My older daughter had a great time bonding with friends and pushing herself to learn new skills.

I didn’t manage to get much done personally despite these camps being local and allowing me to have at least some time home during the day. I spent most of my free time working on homeschool planning for next year and helping plan a possible trip for our church youth group.

Hot but happy! He finished the week!
Big finish for Russian ballet camp!

Summer 2019 – Day 7-9 Cub Scout Day Camp and Recovery

We did it! Five days of camp and mother-son bonding time.

One of the challenges with summer scheduling is that every week is different (and sometimes every day!) Just as you get used to one schedule, it all changes again. So even if you have the best of intentions to blog every day, it just falls off the wagon very easily! Curiously, the weekend “breaks” from this hectic schedule made it harder to stay on track than the busiest camp days!

Cub Scout Day Camp finished up with a wonderful family day. I brought all of my children. My daughters helped out watching 5 toddlers in the “Tot Lot” and my littlest son was energetic and curious as usual but amazingly stayed off the BB gun range and out of the fishing pond.

The end of camp was bittersweet. We were glad to have a rest from the busy schedule and the physical difficulty of being outdoors all day long but will miss the friends we made and the community we established for the week.

The next day, I spent hours going through my photos, cleaning up paperwork and formally “ending” this event. Then it was some shopping to do. By the time I finished with all that the day was gone. I never got to the home improvement work I wanted to do.

On Sunday, we went to church as usual then I had to take my daughter to her dance camp audition. I had fun catching up with our dance friends but after all that was over, I had no energy left for the home improvements and other tasks.

So, I’m still figuring out my summer schedule. This week everyone is doing camps in town but now there are 3 camps to manage instead of 1!

Summer 2019 – Day 6 – Cub Scout Day Camp

little boy shooting bow and arrow
This fine archer got his first bullseye today at camp!

Day four of Cub Scout Day Camp is done! It has been a long week hanging outside in the heat all day, using port-a-potty’s and packing lunches. At the end of the day, my feet hurt and I am tired. I am jointly responsible for watching over 6 boys and am asked to pitch in to help with another 5 or so in our camp den.

Today went a bit slower than the previous days. There were no fish caught today, no BB bullseyes…but just when you think there will be no milestones, something happens! Today the big advancement was in archery. My son got his first bullseye! Then, even though he is one of the littlest guys on the range, he chose to shoot the big recurve bow at longer distance. I was proud when he got a few arrows on the target!

Summer day camps are an interesting experience. The first day or so is hard to adjust to the new schedule or physical stresses like weather or activity level. About mid-week you start to get the hang of it and then by the end of the week a part of you feels you will miss your new routine and seeing the same friends every day.

Tomorrow, we bring all the children to camp for family day. I am still nervous that my little guy is going to find his way to the BB gun range, the fishing pond or the archery range. Fingers crossed he will stay on the playground!

Summer 2019 – Day 5 – Cub Scout Day Camp

First bullseye!

Another day outside at camp! Mom is getting sore but my son is still going relatively strong. He arrived sleepy this morning and took a nap in our wagon. At the end of the day, he fell asleep on the bench during crafts!

Highlights today include hitting the archery target by himself, catching yet another fish (a huge catfish the instructor had to help reel in!) and hitting a bullseye twice on the BB gun range!

It has been interesting to watch the learning process in the scouts. My son went from scoring a zero on the BB gun range on his first day to two bullseyes on the third day. It took some experimentation from his instructors to realize that he was shooting on his non-dominant side and he needed to steady himself on the shooting table to “fire from rest.” Once we unlock how we learn best, there is no limit to what we can do.

As I work with the other boys, I find it is very common that even the brightest among them struggle with handwriting. They use interesting language to teach each other how to do certain physical skills, like handling an arrow or shooting a gun. They describe to each other the movements they need to make to be successful.

There are a few boys that struggle with following directions or obeying orders from adults. I have increased sympathy for this problem from working with my own boys. I try to let them know that we like having them there and that we want them to stay in camp but they need to follow the rules. It is curious to me that whether given a gentle approach like I usually do or a harsher, more authoritarian approach, like some of the other leaders, it doesn’t seem to make much difference. If the boy is not motivated himself to do a certain behavior, it often doesn’t get done.

My daughter who reads this blog informed me that readers are probably curious where she, her older sister and our littlest one are this week. They are having their first ever babysitting job watching my littlest one! The camp is a very short 10-minute drive from my home and I check in with them periodically. So far, they are learning that watching children is a lot of hard work and are demonstrating great maturity which is a learning experience in itself.

Summer 2019 – Day 4 – Cub Scout Day Camp

boy with fish on pole
First ever fish!

Another day at camp today! Highlights include my son’s first fish and hitting his first targets on the BB gun range! He also enjoyed building a small catapult out of wood, using tools like a hammer and screwdriver.

I was teased for wearing the official Scout uniform yesterday not understanding that it was a more casual event! But I am making friends with the other leaders and getting to know the boys in our pack better. They are good friends to each other which is nice!

Every day, my fellow den walkers and I congratulate each other on surviving yet another day! The days are long and exhausting. Little boy energy is astounding.

Summer 2019 – Day 3 – Cub Scout Day Camp

boy on archery range
First ever archery lesson!

We added a new camp to our summer rotation this year…Cub Scout Day Camp! We are a relatively new scouting family so none of us has any experience with this camp. Naturally, I, the least skilled person in matters of archery, shooting sports and fishing, am the scout leader for our pack for this expedition! Also, as the least experienced camp person, the boys also let me know what I am supposed to be doing. Many of them have been to camp for years.

It seems a common problem in scouting in 2019 that the people with all the scout skills are also the people who work full-time to support their families. That leaves a pool of eager but unskilled volunteers to do the actual scouting work with the children. Fortunately, there are a couple of key skilled volunteers to help at each station.

Today, the boys and I struggled in the heat going from station to station. A common refrain from the boys was “When is this over? I want to go home to my Xbox/Fornite/computer.” But by the end of the day, they were having a rousing game of 20 questions and getting excited about shooting BB guns.

I came home exhausted and took a good nap. But we are ready to pack up and do it all again tomorrow!

Summer 2019 – Day 2 – The Church Picnic

girl holding her little brother while swimming
Time for the first official swim of the summer!

Day 2 had us waking up tired from the recital yesterday. But it was off to church for the ice cream social to end the religious education year. Then right after that, it was a quick trip to the grocery store, a quick trip home to make picnic food (some fun sandwich skewers) and wish my wonderful husband a Happy Father’s Day! Then back in the car to drive to the church picnic held at a beautiful nearby farm. The kids lived in the pool and enjoyed swimming with their friends and blasting each other with water guns.

Then it was one more quick trip to the grocery store then back home to work a bit on a patio painting project I am trying to finish but keep getting thwarted by supply problems and the weather.

Tomorrow our summer camps start! Wish us luck!

Summer 2019 – Day 1 – The Dance Recital

two girls post dance recital
Dance recital done! Loved these hip hop costumes.

One of the most frequent questions you get when you tell someone you homeschool 4 children is “How do you have enough time?” Life as a homeschooler is getting much much busier as my children age. There are so many extracurricular activities to schedule and drive to. In addition, the educational requirements are getting more and more difficult and time consuming.

This year, as we reach the cusp of 9th grade and high school, many of our homeschool friends are headed back into public school in droves. They are afraid of the level of academic difficulty and the time involved. I can understand that fear.

For this summer, I plan to post my thoughts about preparing for the enormous challenge ahead….the first year of high school. High school starts with all the activities of the 9th grade summer.

So, my hope is that each day of summer, I will post a quick diary note about what we did. I hope it will give a glimpse of how overwhelming but also fun life as a homeschooler can be.

Today, Day 1 (yesterday) was my daughter’s dance recital. We spent the prior week finishing our standardized testing for my eighth, fifth and second grade. Then we moved right into rehearsals, makeup, and so many costumes. I also managed to volunteer to create a 4 foot high mountain out of paper for the stage set! At the end, we were all so tired but also so proud! They have made so much progress this year and are really starting to show their talents to the world!

First Day of Spring Snowstorm

forest view from a snow-covered porch
First day of spring?

It has been an odd winter here in Virginia.  We have been cycling from freezing to unseasonably warm.  It’s confusing and exhausting and it seems to be quite hard on the body to adjust to all these fluctuations.  My daffodils have been in bloom since late-February and they were just at peak bloom when the first day of spring and a freak snowstorm arrives!


We could have used this snow earlier on not now while we are used to spring!  To add to our misery, we are all sick with various types of colds, bronchitis and flu symptoms.  Each member of the family has a slightly different variant.

So, we sat at home, did some math work for the children who were not seriously ill and watched the snow fall and quickly start to melt.  We lounged on sofas and conserved our energy to get better.

“Some days are like that.”

20th Anniversary Beach Vacation!

We celebrated 20 years of marriage with our first ever visit as a family to Virginia Beach!

After a great lunch at a local restaurant, we visited the Mariner’s Museum where we learned many interesting maritime facts.  My favorite was the recreation of the ship we most often hear referred to as the Merrimack (in the Merrimack versus the Monitor, the first battle of ironclad ships, during the Civil War).  It turns out that the original name of the ship was the Merrimack but during the Civil War, the ship was actually known as the C.S.S. Virginia.  The exhibits referred to both names.  At one point I turned to my historian husband utterly confused and he explained to me that it was the same ship known by two different names.

The Mariner’s Museum also had wonderful interactive films and my kids favorite, a small playhouse shaped like a ship with clothes to dress in, games to play and hammocks to rest in.

We then arrived at our hotel overlooking the boardwalk on Virginia Beach.  This was an amazing room and we were quickly enticed to head down to the beach to play in the waves that evening.

As we were preparing for the trip looking through old wedding photos, my daughters kept asking, “Where were we during your wedding? Why aren’t we in these photos?” They can’t imagine a time that we ever weren’t a family!

To celebrate this important milestone, I wanted to pull out my old wedding dress and shoot a picture with my husband and kids.  My husband insisted that he didn’t want to wear a suit or tuxedo. The kids didn’t want to wear hot, fancy clothes either.  So we compromised with white shirts for the men and cotton dresses in our wedding colors for the girls.  I wanted to shoot in the early morning at Virginia Beach but we all slept in that morning instead.  So, we moved to an evening shoot at our next beach.

We spent the day exploring at Kiptopeke State Park.  We hiked, had a nice lunch and spent the afternoon on the beach.  The waves weren’t nearly as big as Virginia Beach but it was calm and relaxing.


The actual photo shoot preparation took place in the public restroom near the beach.  It did not make for the best dressing room but we somehow got hair and makeup done.  It took longer to get ready than we anticipated and the sun was going down fast,  At first it looked like it could be too dark to take any pictures!  Fortunately, we got a few shots in right before dark.

And for the “truth” of this shot. My tiny wedding dress would not zip so I ended up adding some corset lacing to the back!

That night, we could not find any restaurants open so we grabbed some food from a local grocery store to eat in the hotel.

The last day we decided to check out Chincoteaque State Park (which we learned is pronounced “Shink-teeg” by the locals).  After lunch at a local healthy wraps and sandwiches eatery (which the kids did not like and ate at the Subway across the street!)  We took a brief tour of the park’s nature center where we saw a horseshoe crab in a water tank.  Then we saw (from a distance) the wild ponies resting in the shade beneath some trees.

This picture was taken with the extreme zoom lens of my camera. The ponies were quite far away and hard to see.

We ended the trip with an educational boat cruise from Captain Barry.  Our baby was not so sure about this boat and fussed and screamed at first.  He soon calmed down when he saw all the fun we were having.  The rest of the kids loved it!  We sailed to a sandbar where we took our shoes off and dug for snails and caught very tiny fish.  We collected shells, visited a fresh oyster field where Matt and I tasted raw oysters!  (a first for me!)  The kids helped pull in a crab trap and collect duck decoys and best of all, were dancing on the boat to music!

Even though our trip was only three days, it was full of so much fun and memories!  We all felt recharged from this vacation!

20 years has gone by so quickly!  It seems that we don’t hear very much any more about long-lasting marriages.  I am proud we have made it 20 years!  I don’t think we have any “secret” to share about what makes a long-lasting marriage but it probably helps that we both seem to keep a long view on our relationship. We have had so many wonderful experiences together and we both seem to see a future that is full of so many more!

I love you my husband!  Here’s to the next 20 years!