Checking In

This is how the family looked back when my oldest son was an 8th grader.

The weather turned sharply cooler here in the Mid Atlantic. One week we were hanging out at the pool, the next week we were adding a blanket to the bed. The change in the weather felt so sudden. I was not prepared for 40 degree mornings!

The crisp weather coming was a good reminder that time is passing. Kris has had her first set of tests and school has been in session for a month and a half. It is time for me to take a critical look at how things are going and see if I need to make any adjustments.

We had one last night at the pool on September 13th.

We spent the opening of the school year dividing our time between school work and swimming. Each morning Kris diligently plugged her way through the lessons and each afternoon she hung out with her friends. It was a great transition time between summer and the academic year.

She performed well on those first assessments, so I am comfortable with her academic progress. (Whew!)

Both of us are having trouble, though, finding a rhythm now that we no longer have the option of those lazy afternoons at the pool. She is lucky enough to be dancing at a studio that is open (for limited in person classes). They are all held in the evenings, so sometimes the afternoon seems long.

This week my daughter in law Katie suggested we begin to have a weekly backyard get together. Her timing couldn’t have been better. It was a fun few hours out of the house. I was able to see the grandkids and chat with Katie and Catherine. Kris played with her nieces and nephews and they made crazy videos. I am looking forward to next week’s outing already.

Our first field trip of the season was a morning of hiking in the Catoctin Mountains.

After reflecting on our beginning I realized something was missing. We hadn’t gone on any field trips yet! By this time we are usually visiting museums and attending concerts regularly. With adjustments to the venue choices being necessary due to Covid restrictions, I still need to make sure we get out.

Betsy happens to be attending college in a prime hiking spot. Yesterday we finished school early and headed up to the Catoctin Mountains for a morning of hiking. We stopped at Wolf Rock, eating our packed lunch and enjoying the best possible scenery with someone we love.

We did some fairly steep climbing yesterday!

It was just what we needed!

Just the beginning of autumn color in the mountains

On the way home we stopped off at an Orchard that we had passed on the drive in. The barn that doubled as a fruit and vegetable stand was brimming with different varieties of apples and pears. Wooden baskets full sat temptingly on every shelf in sight.

First step, wash the apples.

I couldn’t resist bringing home 2 large grocery bags full of those delicious apples.

Today, Kris helped me make applesauce. It filled some empty hours and gave us both a feeling of being productive in a very practical way. I love it when a field trip yields an activity for the next day.

Food for the upcoming winter months

Though the schoolwork is going well, I need to be creative in finding things for us to do outside the house. I no longer have a houseful of kids. On this last lap, the days are much different than they were when I had my first 8th grader. I am going to have to be deliberate in planning outings, making sure that we keep our spirits healthy in these challenging times.

I am hoping to enjoy these beautiful fall days outdoors as much as possible. I want to soak in the sunshine, and the vibrant autumn colors. I want to see my family as much as possible and revel in the time I am having with Kris. I want to slow things down just a bit and savor the gift of the present.

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