Life is busy during this time of year. We’ve been finishing up our school year, making up rained-out soccer games, and wiggling back into our bathing suits. All of this means that I haven’t stopped to write anything in several weeks.
I’m not going to kid myself into thinking that suddenly I will have all sorts of free time on my hands; it’s nice to dream, but I’m not sure what I would do with lazy, open-ended days. As of today, our seventh year of homeschooling is complete. G is now a 7th grader, H is officially a 2nd grader, and S is halfway through her 4th grade year. We still have weekly art and piano lessons, and we’re trading spring soccer for summer swimming in another 2 weeks.
Because we completed all of our lessons in less than 180 school days, I declared that last week would be Field Trip Week, and I invited my dad, aka Granddad, to join us. Here’s a look at how we spent Thursday.
We started at Washington National Cathedral. I remember taking a field trip there myself when I was in sixth grade and my mom was my teacher. (No, I wasn’t homeschooled; that’s another story.) We took a tour with a docent whose voice was too soft to be heard consistently over the noise of construction work. The Cathedral suffered significant damage during the 2011 earthquake (the same one that damaged the Washington Monument), and you can see some of the fallen spires in the background of the above photo.
We visited a half dozen chapels, and the girls were delighted to be allowed to sit in the Children’s Chapel, which was built on a 6-year-old’s scale. We also learned that Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan were interred together in a columbarium and saw just a few of the 10,650 pipes that make up the cathedral’s organ.
We also did some searching for a bit of family history. The National Cathedral is famous for its scads of stained glass windows, and the Space Window is perhaps its best known. Instead we were looking for Sir Wilfred Grenfell, a British medical missionary to Labrador and a distant relative of my mother, who shares the same maiden name. He is pictured in the Physicians’ Window, a triple window with Louis Pasteur and Jesus. The above picture is the best I could do to get around the scaffolding that is presently screening the image of Sir Wilfred in his parka and mittens.
As usual, the girls were more impressed with what was outside the cathedral than what was inside. To be honest, it was much quieter and more peaceful in the Bishop’s Garden. S and H both saw a black squirrel, but no adult actually verified the sighting.
After a picnic lunch inside our car, we headed home. Seeing a wealth of unclaimed public parking spots, we decided to take the girls to the Lincoln Memorial. The girls were suitably impressed, but G was quick to remember that someone had doused President Lincoln in green paint last year. She’s good at changing the subject like that. (On a side note, the same perpetrator vandalized the National Cathedral as well.)
Though the drizzle was steady, we decided to make the best of our prime parking spot. We walked to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, crossed the Reflecting Pool again, and visited the Korean War Veterans Memorial. The girls are still too young to understand the impact of these wars or to appreciate what all the inscribed names mean; however, they were respectful of the numerous visitors. Last Monday was Memorial Day, and there were still wreaths, flags, and decorations on display.
Everyone slept soundly on Thursday night. Several hours of walking and exploring has that effect. When my father said good-bye on Friday morning, the girls and I headed to the Loveville Produce Auction. I had gone once last summer and did reasonably well with some help of an experienced friend. I thought I’d be fine on my own with the girls–and I mostly was. Because it is run by Amish and Mennonite farmers, I did not take any pictures out of respect for their customs. I found this picture instead, and it’s typical of what you might see on any Monday, Wednesday or Friday.
We came home with 10 quarts of strawberries, broccoli, 3 bundles of asparagus, baby squash and zucchini, 3 quarts of new potatoes, and 5 dozen eggs. Yes, 5 dozen. H was enjoying the auction so much that she wanted to bid on something. I thought she was bidding on a lot of just 1 dozen brown eggs. Nope, but at least she’s a shrewd bidder; she bought those 5 dozen eggs for just $5. I, on the other hand, goofed on a couple of bids and was thankful that I had two friends who wanted to take berries and veggies off my hands.
Despite my auction miscalculations, the week was a wonderful way to end another school year. I’m thankful that we live in close proximity to the history and wonder that surround our national’s capital, and I’m delighted to live in a community with such a variety of residents and experiences.