When I mention (casually, if that's actually possible) to new acquaintances that I homeschool my children they usually ask whether I give everyone a summer break. I remember in elementary when year-round schooling was first introduced as the newest greatest thing in education and being positively horrified. Who in their right mind would want to school non-stop?!? After all, summer break is the best part of the year, time to have a long, lazy, hot stretch of empty days seeming to last forever. How could you enjoy summer if you were stuck in a classroom while everyone else in the world was at the pool? For a time it looked like year-round was going to change the world for the worse, but thankfully the trend passed and only children whose parents hated them got sent to the few schools that changed their calendar.
But, as we all know, a parent's agenda is not always the same as a child's agenda. And so we school all year round. This year we have enough breaks that we really can't afford to take the whole summer off and so I have a ready excuse. But really, I school through the summer because there's not much else to do. Maybe if I hadn't just had a baby in May we could spend all morning and all afternoon at the pool, but Eleanor is not happy outside her swing for more than forty-five minutes and so we're home-bound until Brandon comes to spell me in the afternoon. And as long as we're stuck in the apartment, we might as well school because it takes some of the combatants out of the fights and keeps everything calmer.
So I suppose I am one of those parents that hate my children (sadly, that's probably true on occasion).
However, as much as I like routine (and I love routine), it gets a little old after a few months. Eleanor's been around for eight weeks and we've been back in school for seven and it's about time for a break. Interestingly, I don't think the children care that about a break, but I certainly wouldn't mind one.
Lucky for me, it's time for Brandon's family reunion! Brandon is the second of nine children which makes getting together a little difficult, especially when various brothers leave for two-year missions, move overseas, and people keep having more and more children. The last time we got together, I was pregnant with Kathleen. There were only five grandchildren and four married children so we were able to squeeze (very tightly) into his parents' house.
This time, however, there will be twenty grandchildren, one more in-law and another almost-in-law so we're all staying at a big (big) rental near Branson, MO. Emails have been flying back and forth about meals, planned outings, room assignments, rules (leave your strong opinions at home), and timetables. Brandon's mom declared that 2014 was going to be The Year back in 2011 or 2012 and so everyone will be there - thirty-six people in all. It's going to be fun.
The children can't decide if they're more excited about the onsite pool, all of the cookies Grammy is making, having a sleepover with their cousins, going to the amusement park, or the plane ride. I'm looking forward to spending a week away from my three-bedroom apartment, away from school, and with some of my very favorite people. I'm sure Brandon's looking forward to something, but he hasn't told me what it is yet.
I was originally going to fly there and back by myself, as Brandon couldn't take any leave, with all five children and booked our tickets accordingly back in September (thank you United rewards and State). Last week, Brandon sent me an email from FSI announcing that he could take the Fourth of July week off and so I checked to see if I could change his ticket. While checking I realized that I had booked his departing ticket for the wrong day anyway, so I changed his to the same six am flight I'm taking with the kids. I'm still doing a solo return, but at least it's only one day with Screaming Baby and four other children and not two.
So, the ducks are all lined up, the suitcases are almost packed, and we're all ready for some fun!