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 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!