Monday, August 20, 2007

Non Semper Erit Aestas

The last week of summer vacation is here for the Cardigan family. I know, lots of you other homeschooling mamas have already cracked the books (but not yet, hopefully, the whip!) and have settled down to serious business; but I decided several years ago to base our schedule loosely on the schedule of the nearest public school system, and while I've been known to deviate egregiously when it comes to substituting religious holidays for silly secular ones, I can't fault this year's starting date of August 27.

I'm actually a proponent of "Labor Day till End of May" schooling, and in an ideal world would always choose to do things that way. But given reasonable vacation days, a schedule like that would only allow thirty-four to thirty-five weeks of school (at a pretty brisk pace, too) and many of the materials I choose to use presume at least a thirty-six week school calendar; some of them tacitly assume a few more weeks, up to about forty. So, since I'd rather be able to take a decent amount of time off at Christmas and a few random days or parts of weeks elsewhere, we'll start next Monday.

My children will be enjoying one last week of summer vacation, or "Quick! Think of something lazy to do!" as I heard one of them say to another. As for me, most of this week will be spent making final preparations for our approaching school year. This is the week for me to look through the new books and decide how much we need to cover each week in each subject, to make sure we haven't forgotten to buy any of the basic supplies we'll need, to complete a few more organizational projects I'd like to get out of the way before school starts, and to tweak my daily school-day routine to allow for the most efficient chore accomplishment and meal preparation possible so that our school time will be focused on learning.

It will not always be summer, indeed. But I've enjoyed the time I've had this summer to recharge my teaching batteries and gear up for the coming year. I may find, as time wears on, that a few of these creatures will try to descend on our little homeschool again this year, but having a few months' break from teaching makes it easier to fend them off.

And even though my girls have voiced the obligatory end-of-summer laments, they're beginning to admit that they do want school to start. There have been surreptitious peeks into tempting new schoolbooks, and open admiration of new pencils and clean, new folders and notebooks. There's been voluntary discussion of the need to clean out the art cabinet in the school room before the first day of school. The amusements of summer, such as they can be in Texas, have begun to pall a little.

Here on earth, we find that to be true. There is nothing we can be doing, however enjoyable, that won't eventually seem dull and no longer worthwhile. In our fallen state, even minor annoyances can be magnified until they seem like insurmountable obstacles, and what begin as pleasant, lazy, happy days can become shrouded with ennui, formless and gray.

Bright summer suns, joyful family gatherings, peaceful happiness, though good, can't compare to the reality that they foreshadow: the bright magnificence of the Beatific Vision, the joy of the eternal saintly company, and the peace and happiness of the life that lies beyond this vale of tears. It won't always be summer in Heaven, either. It will be better.

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