Friday, August 26, 2016


JT will begin his college classes on Monday. When we made our goal to hike a portion of the Appalachian Trail the summer he graduates from high school, we made the plan to spend time hiking this summer. Today felt like the last day of our summer, so we thought we'd better get busy with that goal. I took him hiking at Rickett's Glen State Park where we hiked the shorter version of the Falls Trail.

The trail follows two different creeks as they drop through the park. There are 18 waterfalls on this trail, ranging from 11 feet to the tallest, Ganoga at 94 feet . There were a LOT of steps on this 3.5 mile trail, up and down. Luckily, I had just bought myself a collapsable hiking pole. JT made fun of me when I bought it. Then he wished he had one for this hike.

It took us about one and a half hours to drive to the park, we ate lunch, then hit the trail. We made it around the loop in a little less than 3 hours, with quite a bit of stopping to take pictures. We had time to talk about college classes and things he would need to work on to be successful.

We are planning to do some more hiking on the weekends through the fall. We are also taking our annual camping trip to another one of the state parks in September, so we'll get some hiking in then. I'm not sure how many weekends he'll want to commit to physical activity. I think there will be some adjusting to do until he gets used to his new schedule. 

The views of the waterfalls were worth the work to get to them. It wasn't too hot under the trees and at the bottom of some of the falls, there was a nice breeze.

When we reached the end of the trail, JT said, "Is it a sign of a good hike when you are glad it's over?"

I said, "As long as you are glad you did it, then yes."

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Getting Things in Order

Last week, EM participated in the local fire safety camp. The boys have been going to this camp for the last seven years, however, JT was too old to go this year. Every time one of the boys reaches the age limit for an activity they love, there's a little bit of mourning on my part. It's not that I don't want them to grow up; I just don't want things to change. Our little plan has been the same for so long and I hate change.

Fire safety camp runs for three afternoons. Temperatures were in the 90s all week with humidity that made the real feel temp over 100. It was pretty hot for the kids putting on all the gear and pulling around heavy equipment. The instructors allowed them to do many of the activities without their gear so they wouldn't drop over from heat exhaustion. The last day of camp they did an obstacle course outside followed by the fire fighters shooting them with the water cannon. That was a nice way to cool everyone off. I had been warned in advance so I kept my distance for picture taking.

Yesterday JT and I went to his community college orientation. We were able to talk to his chemistry instructor and get some insight into what to expect. I also learned about their tutoring service that allows a student to send their writing assignments in for review and suggestions for improvement. Hooray! I don't have to do all of that anymore!

Classes start August 29th and we still haven't managed to find a cheaper copy of the English comp text he needs. The student advisor at the orientation suggested waiting until the first day of class to find out if the book is absolutely necessary. We might do that, but I hate not having everything all in order when he starts. I guess I need to learn to go with the flow a little more.

Next week will be our first week off after our six weeks on with our new schedule. We will be trying to get in a day of hiking at a state park, go to the farmer's market, and do a little PSAT prep. I'm hoping to get through a pile of papers I need to file or discard and put together my new scheduling template incorporating JT's new classes into the plan. Mostly, I'll just be preparing myself for new beginnings.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Early Start

School year 2016-2017 got off to a slow start about one month ago. Because JT will be taking classes at the community college this fall, we decided we should get a head start on some of the subjects he'd need to do at home. We have no idea what kind of work load he should expect for his college classes and I didn't want things to be too overloaded when he's first starting out. Of course, all of that logic was lost on the poor victims that needed to get back into a routine.

I tried to keep things simple for the first few weeks - a little grammar, a little history, math, some reading assignments, and geography. JT already has many things to do for his various music lessons each week so those assignments continued for him. EM also did some writing, science, math, and spelling.

The second week into our schooling, JT volunteered as a student helper for Kids' College. He's now too old to attend the program but was given the opportunity to play a different role and continue to enjoy the environment. The kids that attend the camp are definitely part of his tribe. One of the friends he made there in the past was also a volunteer so they were able to spend the week together talking about a video game idea they want to develop.

I'm looking into a few things for the fall. EM will probably be participating in a homeschool gym class once a week. He enjoys most sports and being our only extrovert, needs that time with other kids that JT does not want. Since I'll be taking JT to his college classes Monday and Wednesday morning and Tuesday evenings, plus music lessons on Thursdays, adding a Friday gym class for EM will mean I need to leave the house every day. The hermit in me really dislikes this plan but I know all of these opportunities are good ones for the boys.

Our plan for this year is a little different from others. We are going for the six weeks on, one week off schedule. Thanksgiving and Christmas will confuse things a bit. We'll only have twelve days of school between the two holidays. But will enter Christmas break with only 80 days of school left to meet our 180 days required. JT is planning to take as many as three classes from the community college in the spring, so he will be busier than ever after our month long Christmas break.

Looking at my schedule for this year feels a little overwhelming but I have a feeling it's really going to fly. We're two years from JT's graduation and EM is nearly a highschool student. My job here will soon be done.