Things have been feeling so surreal around here, waiting for my mother in law to pass away. We don’t want her to, of course, but it is inevitable and only a matter of time. We keep thinking she’s at the end and any minute now . . . but she holds on. It is a slow sinking away. Rick goes over every day. His poor father is so profoundly sorrowing.
In spite of this foreboding that filters into everything, there is beauty and joy. The days have beeng gorgeous summer days. The kids have been relaxing, playing, laughing, quibbling. I don’t have anything planned for them right now, so the days are fun, slow summer days.
The house is much quieter with Hannah and Will gone. Josh and Sean have this thing where they watch other kids playing Super Smash Bros. on youtube to see how fast they conquer a level or whatever you call it. Then they go down to the video game system and play until they’ve beaten the record. Their conversations are highly technical, all about jumps and moves and different characters and how many seconds (down to the decimals, mind you!) it took them to do such and such. Sean really missed Josh while he was at his 3 day workcamp and now they are the best of friends and brothers.
Becky has been hanging out with me and keeping herself busy. She plays with Tillie (the puppy) and works on various art projects of her own design. We’ve played Chinese Checkers, phonics bingo (long vowels! I picked up a bunch of phonics bingo games at a going out of business sale for a teacher’s store and every once in a while we pull them out.) She also found an old 150 piece puzzle of animals (all black and white, zebra, tiger, penguins, etc) which we’ve been working on putting together. She helped me clean out the dining room credenza where we are going to keep all our Latin-Centered Curriculum books. She has her own cubby. I bought a new math program for Sean and Becky. It is Shiller Math, a Montessori math program. Well, it looks like the coolest math program ever. We put all the manipulatives in Becky’s cubby but she loves to take them out and play with them. Yesterday she was playing with the balance and weighing all sorts of objects. She asked me if she could please start Second grade when she turns 7 on July 12th. I said certainly! She’s so excited! Oh happy day! To be 7 and starting second grade!
I started reading The Wonder Book by Nathaniel Hawthorne to the kids yesterday. I meant to read Tanglewood Tales but I mislaid it somewhere. Luckily I have The Wonder Book too. We just read the first story about Perseus and Medusa. Since I just read The Scarlet Letter earlier this summer, for the first time ever, I am in awe of Hawthorne’s magical writing abilities. He is a wonderful storyteller.
Other good things: Becky has learned to climb the rope ladder we have tied to the maple tree at the end of our driveway. She was showing me how she could climb it and get up into the branches of the tree. It is a great tree for climbing! While I was watching her perform this new feat, we both noticed many neat rows of holes all over the bark of the tree. Apparently, they’ve been there forever and I had never looked closely enough at the tree to notice. We just finished read the book Children of Summer about Henri Fabre, so we wondered if there wasn’t some kind of wood boring insect that had made the rows of holes. We googled and found much to our delight that holes were made by YELLOW BELLIED SAP SUCKERS! I always thought Yellow-bellied Sap Suckers were some rare bird that intrepid birders got to see if they went to some far off, exotic location. But no! They are right here in Northern Va. We’ve seen them many times. They look like little woodpeckers. In fact we always confused them with woodpeckers before. Apparently, they can damage a tree but our maple looks good and healthy.
Another good thing: Last night the kids decided to wait for Rick to come home outside while chasing fireflies. This was about 9:30 p.m. So they went out but soon came back in asking about the stars in the sky. So we took a blanket out and binoculars and laid on the lawn gazing up at the stars. We definitely saw the the Little Dipper. We weren’t sure about the other stars and constellations. I’m so bad at identifying constellations myself, I wasn’t much of a teacher. But still we enjoyed looking at what the night had to offer: stars, fireflies and the occasional bat.
And another good thing: Since Rick goes over to Baltimore every afternoon and stays until about 8, he’s been calling us and having us say our night prayers over the speaker phone so that grandma can hear us praying. It is very sweet. I’m glad Rick thought to do this as I think it will be a memory the kids will always have and I hope it is a gift of love to Grandma. Rick says it is.