It is June. End of school year is nearing or already passed. It seems like a good time to draw some conclusions, see where we are holding.
I started a vegetable garden after a long hiatus. We had wooden boards leftover from the deck construction that have been sitting for all these months. I wanted to make raised garden beds because local clay soil is not conducive to plant growth. Every simple DIY project called for circular saws and power tools. I don't own any of them. I could not manage to be around when others could help me. Desperately, after digging through my husband's toolbox and coming up empty, I went to Home Depot on Mother's Day and bought L-shaped brackets for the corners. At that point, the kids came out to "help". Then my husband appeared, drilled the holes and voila, after months, I had garden beds.
I planted some veggies and begged the kids to keep the backyard gate closed, lest the deer, rabbits and other local wildlife would eat the plants before us humans.
My oldest graduated from middle school. He is going out of state to yeshiva high school next year. I have been very careful to separate my feelings about it from his feelings. He seems to be excited about the idea. I am excited for him. This past year it felt like he was dragging his feet, not getting anything out of school. A change was necessary. Change ought to be good.
12 yo just finished the review of Beshalach today. That is four parshiyot covered this year. His Hebrew reading has improved, even though he balked at any and all approaches that I tried. Somehow, it clicked enough to be smooth enough when he is calm enough. However, Hebrew is still gibberish to him. The shorashim mean nothing. He flails in the dark, not sure what goes where.
I found a gymnastics/parkour place for 12 yo. They also have classes for 8 yo sister. It is not around the corner, but at least I found a place and signed them up. They seem to enjoy the lessons. 12 yo is especially looking for teachers that do not put kids down.
We are babysitting two geriatric guinea pigs. A friend got them from someone who was moving and then she went out of the country for three weeks. Good thing we practiced on my daughter's class pet. The average lifespan of a guinea pig is 6-8 years and these guys are 9. I feel that this is a very easy assignment: no need to bond, train, discipline, contain. Just feed the piggies and keep them comfortable. Try to keep them alive, but if they happen to kick the bucket while on our watch, well, that's old age... They are cute. The kids enjoy them. 3 yo has gotten quite gentle with them, although she keeps moving their castle houses because leaving them alone and observing them with her eyes is not an option. I am considering this a trial run for pet ownership.
3 yo is potty-training. It had to happen one day, and that day was a day before an 8-hour car ride for Shavuot. She is still working on bowel movement, but no pee accidents and dry all night. We have not shut down the pool (yet).
Speaking of the pool, we will be living there this summer. I have four swimmers! I am even finding myself enjoying pool time because there is much less watching required. 5 yo has been trained by me to swim and then his older siblings took over, especially 12 yo. He has been encouraging and working with his little brother, teaching him to dive, to swim in the deep end, and even to go down the water slide. That leaves me just 3 yo to watch. That girlie got comfortable near the water. She can stand in the shallow end of the deep pool, which was a large confidence booster. Within a few times, she started jumping into the pool, putting her face in the water, blowing bubbles and even attempting to swim in the baby pool. I sort of hope that she will learn how to swim by the end of the summer. All of this happened without swim lessons. When the kids are ready, they will try things. When the kids are gently encouraged by an adult in the water without pressure to do this today and that tomorrow, they will develop their own timeline and set their own goals. My 5 yo son was SURE that he will have to be 7 or 8 until he'll be ready to go down the water slide, and I was not so sure whether his timeline was wrong. But then he got enough encouragement and support from his siblings to try it. No, he is not interested in stroke refinement. He is interested in being dumped into 11 feet of water.
Oh, and 12 yo somehow almost finished 7th grade Khan academy math... And he is excellent with little kids. And he knows exactly the right thing to say to a child who is feeling down. And he gives awesomely sincere pep talks. If only he would apply them all to himself...
The kids are not going to Jewish summer day camps. I do not trust the leadership. I do not trust that anyone out there cares for the well-being of my children. I love the concept of a Jewish summer camp as a positive experience of Judaism, but I am no longer naive (or desperate). I wish it were not so. I wish I would get a week's break from all the kids' management. But it looks like camp Mommy all summer long. Zoo, science museums, pools and parks, here we come!