Friday, July 3, 2015

Summering


We're more than halfway through our summer break already, which seems a little hard to believe. We're having a good summer. Longtime readers will know that I'm not a big fan of the long summer break we have here - usually 12 weeks' worth - but it has been a little easier this summer. They're able to entertain themselves a little better and keep busy, which means less squabbling and less lazing around whining about boredom.

It isn't that I don't like having my children around (if I didn't, I wouldn't have chosen a partial-homeschool approach to educating them). It's just that 12 weeks is a loooong time for them to be out of school and away from regular routines. For this reason, the Bear and I design our own summer learning goals for them and work out daily teaching and assignments, mainly in math and reading, but also in art and music and other areas, like learning to touch-type (her) and practicing computer coding (him). We go to the library at least once a week, participating in the summer reading program and attending weekly special events like puppet shows and musical performances. We listen to audiobooks and podcasts every day. There are chickens to care for and flowers to water and prune.

We're keeping busy, and it's mostly very good. Here is some of what we've been up to this summer...


We're eating lots of fruit, as we always do in the summer. I usually buy produce twice a week in summertime, both to keep up with the demand and to make sure everything is always really fresh. I started something new this summer by serving a huge green salad for dinner on Wednesday nights. The small Bears and I stop at the store on the way home from the library in the afternoon and we buy what we need for a salad. I'm trying to make it different each week, varying the vegetables, adding toppings like eggs, cheese or nuts, and trying different homemade dressing recipes. The Bear and I have been enjoying this a lot, the children a little less so, but they're very good about eating veggies. We usually have something with the salad, such as chicken sausages or boiled red potatoes or good bread with butter. You'd think I would have photographed some of these salad masterpieces but I haven't thought to do so. Maybe next week.


We've had a few picnics in the backyard. We'll cook dinner and carry it out to the small grassy area we have out there. It's so small we have to eat under the swingset, but it works okay. Sometimes a chicken wanders over and we feed her little bits of our food. This dinner was hot dogs and baked beans, with beer for big people. It's not all bountiful salads around here, no siree.


I've been indulging in one of my favorite peaceful pastimes, cutting up fabric for patchwork. I don't have a firm plan for the pieces (it may become a quilt for the GB eventually, but I've made no promises). I just really like the cutting, and the selection process. I've been cutting cotton calicos in gray, aqua and pinky-peach lately. Should they become a quilt, they will be used randomly, with the pinks dominating. I will try to make real quilt binding. But no promises.


The Bear has been making beautiful artwork and helping the small ones learn too. I'm so lucky to have a house full of artists, with unique artwork everywhere I look.


I've been trying to serve healthier desserts, especially now that all this fruit is available. This was a blueberry-peach crisp (I shared my recipe here a couple of years ago). I made this one in a small baking dish, just for two (the children; I was having ice cream later after they went to bed, ha!). They loved it, especially after I poured about a tablespoon of cream over each portion.


We completed a two-week session of swimming lessons in early June at our local city pool. Both small Bears were given the go-ahead to take the next level class for each. As usual, I sat under my old faithful pine tree on the top of a small hill near the pool. There's a nice breeze up there and I bring books to read. Every summer it's the same. It's a good, trusty ritual for me.


We seem to have reached the best time of the summer, as far as I'm concerned - the monsoon! Yay. We've had a wet spring and summer as it is, and now the traditional moisture flow associated with the monsoon pattern seems to be getting started. It usually happens in early July and lasts into early September or so. I'm so glad. I love rain. Even dark skies are thrilling to me. It's so sunny otherwise around here, the clouds feel like a treat. This photo is looking out toward the open space behind our property. Not shown is the arroyo (picture a large concrete drainage ditch - none too pretty), but you can see the grassy embankment alongside it. There's a walking trail on top of the embankment, next to the wall. The wall is the back property line for the houses on the other side of it. All houses here have walled backyards. Our wall backs up on the open space the same way but our embankment is not as steep. I don't think I've offered enough discussion of the illustrious arroyo space. Scintillating, no?


At the end of May, the Bear and I made ourselves a little drinkin' spot on the side of the house and we've been enjoying it all summer. I took this photo on the first day we tried it, but we've used it a few times since. He was pruning the honeysuckle you see behind him, which is on the side of our house, and he noticed how shady and cool it was under there. So he brought a little camp table and a couple of chairs over and told me to join him. It was wonderful! We eventually brought books, magazines and drinks in with us. I think we lasted about twenty minutes before the kids found us, but then we gave them some cheese and they went away. Later, we helped them build a tent with blankets over the swingset to make their own secret space and we've enjoyed our hideout ever since. They know where we are but until they can make their own whiskey sours, and drink them legally, it's a kid-free zone.


We had our first hibiscus bloom of the summer this week. They begin to bloom during the first week of July every year, just like clockwork. I love knowing exactly when I can expect a flower to put on its show.

*****

How's your summer going? What are your plans for July and August?

Welcome, new readers and followers! I'm really glad you're here. I hope you all have a good weekend. Happy Independence Day, American friends!

32 comments:

  1. Lovely photos of your summer activities. Mine is going great and just enjoying the sunshine. Have a lovely weekend!

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  2. 12 weeks! Gosh! We have 6 here, but it never feels enough. As a child I had 8 weeks and that was about right. You are an amazing Mum, did you know that ? You sound like you strike the perfect balance of learning and fun. And both at the same time too. Enjoy your weekend Jennifer,
    Jillxxx

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  3. Twelve weeks is long, the kids get nine weeks here and even that is long compared to the mainland UK but it does sound like you have it covered with lots of things for the children to do.
    I love your little private space, it sounds perfect. :)
    V x

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  4. Wow, 12 weeks is a long time to have a summer break. We have 6 weeks here in the UK and even that is too much for some families, boredom seems to be a big issue for some and childcare issues for others. I used to love the time spent together when my girls were small and got them involved in lots of garden projects.

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  5. We're still two weeks away from the school summer holidays. We can't wait. Yours look happy, a perfect mix of fun and learning. Hope you continue to enjoy the remaining weeks of school vacation. Have a great weekend!

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  6. Nice to see that you am enjoyed your summer days !! Here we're just trying to manage with the heat, very heat weather here in France ... that's really really hard.... around 40°c today again !! It's been like that since tuesday and it's not finished !!! Well, no trip in july or august for us but the 1st 2 weeks of september ... Happy Independance Day to you and very happy weekend !!!

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  7. What a strikingly beautiful sunset! We recently has a similarly hued one over Okanagan Lake here and I couldn't snap a photo quick enough either.

    This summer is all about work, work and more work, with periods of family time, walks at the beach and through the woods, and garage saling swirled throughout - ooooh, and my birthday next week. :)

    Big hugs & tons of happy 4th of July wishes,
    ♥ Jessica

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  8. I have to laugh, that you welcome the Monsoon whilst here, in Yorkshire (UK), we dream of sunshine. Indeed we have had about 3 days of sunshine so far this year. It was so warm on Wed (day 2 of sunshine) that the news were telling us of doom and gloom. It was the hottest day in July ever!!!! Oh how I wish we had nicer weather.

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  9. happy summer indeed. love that you are still hiding around the side of the house xxx

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  10. I love your shady spot at the side of the house, wonderful. You do summer so beautifully I think Jennifer, a lovely balance of things for everyone. Dinner outside looks wonderful, and I like the idea of a big salad, I think I shall try that more often over the summer too. Hard to believe you're halfway through the holidays already. We have another couple of weeks of school left and abound a hundred things on the calendar, but then WE'RE FREE! Wishing you and yours a good weekend. CJ xx

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  11. Lovely photos of your summering, Jennifer. :o)

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  12. It looks like you are enjoyed your summer Jennifer. Fun things, educational things, nutritional things and everything in between. What a great Mama and Papa Bear your kids have! :-). I like your littl place for just the two of you by the house. Hey, could you send some of hat rain up here? We desperately need it.
    Blessings,
    Betsy

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  13. Sounds like summer is treating you well. Love the kid free zone in your yard, it looks like the perfect escape. Enjoy! Our summer is shaping up well with a good amount of white space on the calender, and little bits of activity, and friend visits here and there.

    Enjoy your weekend and Happy 4th of July!

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  14. It all sounds great. Twelve weeks is a long time - I quite like the idea but the reality might be too much. We have just over six weeks here in the UK, starting in three weeks, and I know that by September I'll be ready to get back to the school routine! Have you tried watermelon ice lollies? Cut wedges, leave the skin on, stick a wooden lolly (Popsicle?) stick through the skin, lay on a tray lined with baking parchment (so they don't stick) and freeze. Delicious. Happy 4th July. X

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  15. It looks like your summer is going well. We have a parade tomorrow to watch and then a BBQ here at the house for family and friends. I think it's great that you and Bear are instilling artistry in your children. My husband doesn't do anything artistic. -:¦:-·:*'""*:·.-:¦:-·* HAPPY 4th of JULY! *·-:¦:-·:*'''''*:·-:¦:-
    ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

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  16. Oh, I love that white hibiscus, it is beautiful, Jennifer.
    What a lovely summer you are having. The picnic on the grass is such a good idea - we should try it here with the grandson. Peach crisp looks so yum, I am thinking of making one tonight.
    And your Secret Summer Drinkin' Spot is inspired!! What a clever discovery :)

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  17. Your summer sounds wonderful! I think you do a fantastic job of making it special, mixing in learning activities with relaxation and precious family time!

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  18. Lovely post, Jennifer. I'm glad you're enjoying summer. Here it's winter, but you wouldn't believe it; we've been swimming and surfing every day. I love winter here, it's less crowded and perfect weather. I'll look forward to seeing what you make with your fabric squares. You always come up with something good!

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  19. Haha Jennifer, naughty you !! Eating icecream after serving the kids a healthy dessert !! (Something I would do too, if I had kids ;-)))
    12 weeks summer holiday, wow now that is long... Over here, most European countries have +/- 8 weeks in summer, and when I remember the years when I went to school, I recall it feeling like a year, those 8 weeks ! Imagine 12... Don't know if that is such a good system (no offense), but young children need structure, and I think a lot of them will be very reluctant to go back to school after such a long period (especially those where the parents are not so concerned as you about their kids... Good thing you have them studying during these months !!)
    I hope monsoon arrives quickly ;-) - maybe I would like rain too, if I would live in your climate... But for me, rain is synonym with autumn and cold, windy weather, so I am not particularly fond of it (except a good thunderstorm in summer when it is too hot - something predicted for this evening, yay !)

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  20. It looks like Summer is going well so far. I love your shady spot. I could imagine drinking a chilled glass of wine there after s day in the office. Have a great weekend. X

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  21. You are so good at making time and space for yourself Jennifer. I think it is very important that children are able to amuse themselves (sans devices). Your holiday plans sound very similar to how I used to spend the six week UK summer holiday with my children. Do you know my 19 year old daughter has been amusing herself during her university holiday with cross-stitching her own designs on linen. Oh to have young eyes again!

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  22. I'm counting down to the holidays now. We've 2 more weeks of school to go!! Love your shady space - even better with a whiskey sour! Sounds like a fab summer 😀xx

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  23. Our summers are never quite like that, unfortunately the weather is not reliable. I do miss those lazy days in the public swimming pool, a regular summer holidays feature when I was growing up in Switzerland. I also miss big green salads, must stop at the shops on my way back from meeting our summer guest from Switzerland. Enjoy the monsoon season. xx

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  24. It looks like you're having a wonderful summer. Twelve weeks does seem like a long time to be away from school, our break is about six weeks and that seems a long time to me, though I always enjoyed having them at home and having the break from routine.

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  25. What a wonderful sounding summer, Jennifer! It's hard to believe you have had a rainy summer. We are in the middle of the hottest, driest summer on record here in BC. I laughed at you giving your kids some cheese so they would go away and leave you and the Bear in peace. :-)

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  26. It all sound amazing, I think it is great that you keep a bit of the routine going. Our 6 weeks in England go by way too quickly, Josh would love to have 12 weeks! Oh, I must also say that Bear's picture is great! x

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  27. You are having such a wonderful Summer Jennifer! And how lovely to know that you will definitely have monsoon weather. The weather in Britain is so hit and miss changing from one weather front to another each day. I love the rain so much so enjoy it when it does. The little hidey hole is a great idea to have that space - being a parent can be so busy sometimes so it is nice to step away albeit just briefly. Have a wonderful Sunday xx

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  28. Sounds like you keep your children on just the right side of active during the summer hol's! I am laughing internally at the thought of offering my two a big salad, I think they would leave home...... X

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  29. What wonderful summery days you describe here, Jennifer. It all sounds so lovely, and you have great ways of spending those long weeks of holidays and how you keep some routine going. The food you write about sounds soooo delicious......Love the idea of your little shady spot too.
    Wishing you and your family a happy new week.
    Helen xox

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  30. A lovely, summery post. I love reading about how you spend your days, especially when they overlap with how I spend mine. X

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  31. I loved reading about your summer, thus far. Hard to believe it's halfway over. Sounds like you guys are really busy. We're trying to get a lot of projects done around the house, but seems like things always take much longer than expected. Hubby just had some vacation days, so he got the bedroom painted and some of the closet doors, too. Next big painting project is scraping the old stain off the front door (it's already peeling) and painting that, too. Lots of fun stuff going on most weekends - BBQs and get-togethers, so all in all, a really good summer so far.

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  32. looks like a great summer so far! thank you for reminding me of the monsoons! i used to live in arizona, and i forgot how wonderful they can be. and that pool looks awesome! (if that seems strange it's because all of our pools are small and mostly inside.) glad you are doing well. :)

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