Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Still Teaching

Just one month ago, Caroline wasn't able to reliably start (or stop) her bike. But at the end of an evening ride at our church three weeks or so ago, she asked to ride home with Sam and Sherry. The three of them didn't set any speed records, but they made it. And that's allowed me to take more risks with biking.

When a friend offered we go for a ride Sunday, we were able to do so. He took the lead with the other kids, I stayed toward the rear with Caroline. She was fine. Just took a bit more time.

Today, Sam, Caroline, and I were able to do a bike ride that was near four miles. It started as a trip to the library (which turned out to be closed), then the Post Office, and then we made our way over to Inglewood elementary via the not-so-secret shortcut. It's time to trust her little (okay, they're kind of long) legs to do a ride like that.

Not the best photo, but it works as some proof. Note the two dogs who made the journey with us in the basket.

Not the exact routes we took but close enough. There was no travelling along Allentown Rd. That's just wildly irresponsible. I would never do such a thing. 
So, what does this have to do with teaching? That's where the older rider comes in. It seems high time I teach Sam how to do the riding safely. He's pretty good on a bike, but I've stunted his growth by "clearing" intersections for him, riding ahead (and through stop signs) so that we can get going to wherever faster. It dawned on me this morning that it's time to teach him how to go for a ride himself and still allow me to trust him. I'll consider missions accomplished if by summer's end . . .

a) the three of us (hopefully with Sherry) can take our bikes for a ride on the Perkiomen Trail 

b) I can trust Sam to safely ride by himself to a friend's house

Monday, June 29, 2015

Is this summer going to actually get started?

This really has been one of the stranger starts to the summer. My school year ran late, not as late as last year, but late enough to create another staggered start to the season. I finished my year on June 22; Sam and Caroline finished theirs on June 12. But their camp ended on June 26. And today, the first day without school or work or camp I was away . . . on business related to work. Go figure.

Perhaps I can look at this summer the way I looked at last summer: as a long season broken up into several short seasons.

So, here's a preview:

Summer Session A: June 15-June 22

This was our transitional phase, characterized by me finishing one school year and the kids having a two-week experience at camp. Their camp, held at place that was their preschool, was a pleasant surprise for the kids, or at least for the older kid. Sam expressed some reservations about going to camp, anxiety mostly about what he perceived as strict rules that he had to endure. Turns out he was quite happy there. He really bonded with the teachers. Also, it would seem that the camp's decision to break kids into a junior and senior division went over well with him.

One of our summer excursions also happened during this first session: an all-day trip to Scranton where we took in Steamtown, a coal mine, and a Krispy Kreme. Interestingly, it felt like a field trip, fitting the whole transition-from-school-year theme. At some point, I swear, I'll get around to a report on that trip.

The interlude also gave me a chance to visit Temple University with my nephew and assist my brother in moving to Chester County.

It's a shame Stephen and I didn't think of taking a selfie while on campus.

Summer Session B: June 29-July 10

Ah, this will feel real. I think. We welcome Sherry back on the Fourth! We celebrate our nation's birth on the Fourth! 

Just think: The 150th is only two years away. Sadly, I won't be home on Canada Day proper. Must celebrate at 10:30 pm EDT on June 30. 

But there will be a lot of fun stuff going on this first week. We're doing the first camping trip of the year, to Rickett's Glen. In addition to welcoming Sherry home we also get to see some family at Sherry's parents' home (while her folks get to visit Alaska). 

Summer Session C: July 13-July 24

This will be normal. 

Summer Session D: July 27-August 7

Vacation season.

Not nearly as epic as RoadTrip 2014.
Summer Session E: August 10-August 21

This is when we'll swear that we're enjoying it and not thinking at all about September but . . . 

Summer Session F: August 24-September 4

And it will be interrupted by more serious matters. 

Before CBSD gets too uppity about how fancy their calendar looks next to NPSD's austere one, each calendar says the same basic thing: kids ain't going to be happy about returning to school before Labor Day. 
I'm looking forward to my first day at home with Sam and Caroline in summer 2015. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015


I'm now finishing a quiet first day of summer. I don't know if I liked the quiet. With Sherry abroad and the kids at camp, the house is very still. It feels more like an accident or anomaly than it does a summer day.

I made some use of the time alone. I took care of a few school tasks that really seemed like electronic paperwork: completing some mandatory online training, submitting the clearances for my criminal history that a bad law now obligates teachers to do. I cleaned. I ran some errands for the sake of doing errands. I ran. Twice.

I really don't do well with solitude, though I should learn to seek it a little bit more in my life. I spent just about one year of my life living alone: the 1998-99 school year. I couldn't wait for that spell of life to end.

I'm more alive when there are kids or my wife to spend my day with. Being alone all day today I felt like I was somehow cheating summer of what it should be.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

The Eve of Summer

I remain, still, with a foot in my school year and a foot in the summer. It's my final day of work tomorrow. (And for as long as this school year seems to have lasted, it still hasn't been as long of a campaign as last year, which ended on June 26.) I'll probably be fairly purposeful tomorrow.

But it's summer in that the kids and I have already made three adventures since late May. Most recently, yesterday in fact, we made an excursion to Scranton, visiting Steamtown and a Coal Mine. I think the kids preferred the latter of the destinations. The trip had something of a feel akin to a field trip, which is somewhat ironic given that this school year marks the first in seventeen in which I did not lead, organize, or chaperone a field trip. I had a blast, though, especially going below the earth on the Lackawanna Coal Mine tour. The kids were a little creeped out. A little cold. But mostly curious and intrigued by the experience. Sam told me that the tour wasn't at all what he expected. It was more interesting.

Sorting mail at Steamtown.

Sam upon his return to the surface. 
There are more, and better, photos from the trip. I'll get around to organizing them and writing a bit more about this.

I'll admit, though, I'm not in the mood to write much as my wife's plight is on my mind. Her annual business trip to Oz means it's summer. But it would appear she's had a pretty rough trip into Australia. Flight delays. Missing baggage. Some unworkable ATM and credit cards. She's had a true ordeal over the weekend, and I can't help but think of how frustrating that has been for her. At the same time, I'm glad that at least this cascading set of travel mishaps occurred while going to a nation like Australia. Fortunately her work doesn't have her going to Greece, or Belarus, or Singapore, or somewhere else where language, custom, law, or what have you could really put her in jeopardy.