Wednesday, July 2, 2014

School's Out For The Summer (and my quiet time is gone.) By C.P. Stringham

     It’s that time of year, folks. School has officially let out for the summer. How long did it take those of you with children to hear, “I’m bored!”? I think my youngest said it on her very first day home--and several times since. Despite that, I love having my children home for summer vacation. I really do. All three of us benefit from taking an academic break.  
First day of the 2013-14 school year. Seems like it was just yesterday.  
My oldest is pretty maintenance-free as far as needing my assistance with schoolwork. While she usually makes honor roll, her grades don't come to her as easily as they do for others. She has to work really hard for them. Like me, she's more of a language arts/history academic. Math and science makes us cringe. Specifically, algebra and chemistry. Don't get me wrong. We have a total appreciation of those subjects and their importance, but lack the critical understanding needed to perform them. No, with her, the most difficult act I'm involved in is getting her out of bed on school mornings. In plain words? She's a pain-in-the-ass to wake up and get moving. Truly. She’ll be a senior next year. The last year I’ll have to fight with her to get up. Time sure flies. I’m sure I’ll look back some day and wish those days hadn't gone by so quickly.
My youngest has an Autism Spectrum Disorder and, along with it, she has a learning disability. Fortunately, we've had incredible teachers who are understanding, helpful, and extremely caring. They've been able to make strong connections with her and have encouraged academic gains. The best part for me personally? They tolerate my "helicopter mom" tendencies! A few teachers have even offered yours truly some good-natured ribbing over my possessive worrying since I openly admit to it. I embrace my idiosyncrasies and poke fun at myself. Unlike her older sister, Mackenzie has no trouble getting up for school. Some days, she’s up before my alarm goes off. Where my early riser gives me fits is with her homework. She hates homework. Hates it and not in the same way typical kids do. She and I go around and around. It takes us an hour to do a fifteen-minute assignment because she drags it out by whining and complaining—even worse is when she shuts down entirely. Her developmental pediatrician says it’s quite common in children with autism to hate homework. Their brains take things and put them into the most concrete, black and white, categories. For her, homework comes from school, therefore, it should be done AT SCHOOL. No gray area for it. Fortunately, her teachers try to accommodate her as much as possible and give her time to do homework at school. Mackenzie has made many gains and works diligently during her school days. She gets off the bus, at the end of the day, and goes to her room to decompress from all of the sensory overload she’s had from being around people all day. Grumpy Gus turns into Miss Mellow from an hour's worth of isolation with her computer or MP3 player.
We’re only into our second week of summer vacation and, while we haven’t had one of our famous family road trips yet, there’s bound to be adventures in our near future. Northeastern Pennsylvania has so many wonderful places to visit and within close enough proximity for a fun-filled day trip. Ithaca, Watkins Glen, Corning, Wellsboro, and Galeton are some of our favorite destinations. Up and out of the house reasonably early for the commute, shop, see the sights, grab a late lunch at a mom and pop joint, see some more sites, and then head home. Those trips have led to our meeting some pretty awesome people and forming new friendships. Most of our trips involve supporting as many small businesses as possible. They are the best places to enjoy the American experience--meeting the local people and learning the history. I take a camera along because you never know who or what you will see. Capture those adventures!
Wellsboro, PA: L to R - My family passing the historic Penn Wells Hotel; Tioga County Court House; Wynken, Blynken and Nod Statue on the Green
 Here’s to fireflies, s’mores, swimming, and cookouts! May each of you get the most out of what summer has to offer. After the winter we’ve had, I’m doing just that!
What are your plans this summer? If you're looking to visit Potter County, stop in and visit Rob and Cindy Pflug at The Brick House Cafe & Deli. It's located along PA's historic Route 6 in Galeton, PA. Have a hearty meal, enjoy the comfortable atmosphere, and make sure to introduce yourself. They're good people! 
The Brick House Cafe & Deli: L to R - The front view overlooking a street in Galeton; Our host, Cindy Pflug, who makes AMAZING cole slaw--among many other scrumptious things; My husband and our oldest with full bellies and happy smiles! 

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