We live in a transient area near Quantico, VA. Many military families, especially from the Marine Corps, are stationed here for a few years. Part of being a permanent resident of the area is the knowledge that some of your friends will be moving away. This year it is hitting a little extra hard as at least three friends of mine and my daughters’ are moving this summer and they will be greatly missed.
My father served in the Marines, but it was when he was young and long before I was born. I grew up in the same small town, in the same house, until I moved out on my own. My husband served in the Navy, but it was before we met. My brother joined the Marines when I was about 12 years old. He deployed many times when he was single; and over the years he took my sister-in-law and my nephews with him until his retirement. Currently, I miss my nephew as he goes off to Paris Island, Camp Lejeune, Okinawa and now 29 Palms. I honestly don’t have what it takes to be a military spouse. I struggle when we rearrange the furniture; I can’t imagine moving every three years or less!
As our homeschool community was ending the school year a few weeks ago I started thinking about this, but from a very selfish perspective. I was focused on how we make friends and they move away, almost to the point that I hesitate to make an effort to become friends with military families.
Then yesterday while I was driving my girls to the dentist I was on a road near where a friend had lived who just moved to Jacksonville/Camp Lejeune, NC a month ago. My mind drifted, as it often does when I am driving. I thought about the fellowship we shared. We prayed for each other. We shared good times and bad. We shared meals and day trips. Our daughters shared a dear friendship with much in common, yet some differences which enriched each others lives. I wondered how they are doing and started thinking about how fortunate their new neighbors and friends are to have them. That’s when I shifted my thought process. Instead of being negative, I decided to be filled with gratitude. What a blessing some of the mothers and children have been to my family. They move in to a community knowing they are not there to stay, yet they make a positive impact for the short time they are here. They support their husbands and fathers who serve our country bravely. They endure their spouse’s deployments or miss their fathers while still giving their time and energy to support others. They pack up and relocate, as they are commanded, to serve our country.
I have learned to forget my selfish thoughts and count the blessings God has placed in our lives, if only for a short time. Thank you servicemen for serving our country so bravely. Thank you military families for coming into our community and lives and making them better before you move on to do the same at the next duty station. Thank you.
When we decided to start our day with a morning walk I didn’t realize how much learning would actually take place. I agreed to it out of a need for my own exercise and an opportunity for the girls to cross-train (exercise other than dancing) by walking, running or riding their bikes. Not to mention, it was a beautiful sunny morning! No, I didn’t consider the discussion about seasons, observations of birds and even math skills that would come in to play as we walked the neighborhood.
My oldest rode her bike ahead and kept circling back. My youngest started by trying to run to keep up with her sister, but asthma wheeziness started creeping in due to a combination of spring pollen and over exertion, I guess. Instead she just walked with me….and learned.
As all kindergarteners do, we learned more about the seasons. We noticed that fall isn’t the only season to have pretty varying colors of leaves on trees. She noticed the varying shades of green on the spring leaves, as well as some pinks and yellows.
Oh, the birds! They were out in full force this beautiful spring morning causing us to enjoy some impromptu nature studies. First we heard them. We just listened to their singing. We heard one that was probably the baby and then what we assumed was it’s mother answering back. My daughter shared her thoughts that the baby was asking for breakfast and the mother was telling it she’d be right back with a worm. Then we noticed the different sounds of bird songs coming from different trees. A little farther on our walk we noticed a bright red cardinal, along with two female cardinals. As it’s always surprising for young children to learn, I told her that the prettiest cardinal is the male and the others are female. As we watched them flit and fly from branch to branch playing with each other she decided that maybe the two females were actually bickering and fighting over the handsome male cardinal. (It seems thoughts of romance starts young these days. And, no, we don’t spend our afternoon watching soap operas.)
We learned about math as we counted how long it would take her sister to get from the end of the cul-de-sac to the other end on her bike. It took 6o seconds, which we reviewed equals one minute. We continued discussing it would probably take an hour if she did it 60 times, because an hour equals 60 minutes. How many could she do in 15 minutes? About 15, of course. She didn’t realize we were having a mini math lesson.
I didn’t realize either, as we were walking and talking, all the things we were learning while putting off school work for a walk in the neighborhood. It was as we returned home and entered the driveway that it hit me what a productive morning walk we had had. She asked to stay out a little longer to play with bubbles and I obliged. Who knows what else she might discover and learn on her own while she stays outside just a little longer!
We all focus our attention to academics, and making sure our children are active in organized sports and structured activities. With all of these concerns and commitments, are we allowing our kids to just be creative? A little over a year ago, I let go of the morning resistance to get our school work started. I was realizing that after breakfast (sometimes even before breakfast) was the time my girls seem to get caught up in their own ideas and creations. Sometimes it was Lego constructions or bead work. More recently it is drawing, painting, crochet, or even acting, videography and photography. It was last year that I embraced this time and instead of demanding their obedience to get dressed and sit at the table to do school work, I gave them the time to create. Within reason, I allowed them time to complete the project they had started. They understood that the next thing to do was begin their school work. Yes, it’s also beneficial to incorporate their talents and interests with the academic lessons, but I think the unstructured time without imposing expectations of the end product is also necessary. Allowing this time to get their creative juices flowing and to express themselves in the mode of their choice made our academic times even more enjoyable and productive. Currently, I see this optimal creative time of day changing for one and I need to be sure to work with it instead of against it, and allow her the time to create.
Take time to smell the flowers. Honestly, we took time to look at a dead lady bug, under a microscope no less. I’m sure you all have priorities to keep and tight schedules to follow, I know I do. Just the other morning we were reading about Chemistry and decided, reluctantly for me, that we’d do the suggested observation. I was really considering skipping it that day and just moving on to math, outlining for the new writing assignment or studying for Memory Master (which is like preparing your Baltimore Catechism for First Holy Communion in the 1970’s, but for six academic subjects). Of course, we want to cover all of our academics before we leave for dance class in the afternoon. Something nudged me to get the microscope out of the box and look at the salt up close. As I boiled the salt and let the water evaporate the girls continued to look at EVERYTHING under the microscope. They looked at coins, an avacado smear, a leftover toast crumb, my engagement ring, an emerald necklace, and fish food. I let them explore as I monitored the boiling salt on the stove. At this point I was realizing this was good quality learning fun, and not just something in the way of what really needed to be done. Then I heard it. Enthusiastically, my 5 year old declares, “Let’s look at a dead ladybug!” Sure enough they found one. (We have ladybug issue from time to time in our house. They say the are good luck, right? But are they good luck if they are dead? I digress…) I realized what a love for learning I almost let slip by because it wasn’t what I had scheduled for the day. And get this, once we put the microscope away, they joyfully continued with the regularly scheduled assignments. So, whether you homeschool or monitor homework in the evening, please learn from my almost mistake, and take time to look at dead ladybugs.