Catherine McGrew Jaime

Author, Historian, Lifelong Learner, Teacher, World Traveler

Category: Family

Celebrating “Retirement”

Changing Directions – Again

As happens so often, I have changed directions on this week’s blog post. Hopefully, my previously planned topic will appear in a future post, but not this week.  Almost exactly a year ago, I wrote a post, Celebrating 35 years of Homeschooling, 40 years of Parenting, 60 years of Life, on my other blog, at www.CreativeLearningConnection.com. I did not expect that I would be writing a follow up post here on my author’s blog, but that’s exactly what I’m now doing.

Last Year’s Surprise

Last year’s post came as a result of a video my children surprised me with for my 60th birthday.  The video was unexpected, to say the least, and was an amazing blessing as my children shared some of their favorite memories of growing up with me. (They were kind enough to leave out any unpleasant memories they may have.)

This Year’s Surprise

I would really have thought they couldn’t top that surprise/blessing. But they managed. This year, on the Saturday before Mother’s Day, when I thought a dozen of us were going out to an early Mother’s Day luncheon, I found myself at our church surrounded by a very large group (about 50, by my best count) of family, friends, students, and former students, to celebrate my “retirement.” The brainchild of one of my children, “Saying Thank You to Catherine Jaime” was like the previous year’s video on steroids.

My daughter had managed to interview dozens and dozens of people I had interacted with during the last three plus decades as  I homeschooled, taught class after class, and coached team after team of mock trial students. As I watched the audio/visual presentation she had so carefully put together, I was brought to (happy) tears yet again.

The Upcoming Reunion

And the timing could not have been better. In less than a month I will be attending my husband’s 40th reunion at MIT. (I attended MIT also, but my 40th isn’t until next year.) I have been to numerous reunions over the past 40 years and have always enjoyed getting together with our friends there. But, sometimes, I have to work hard to make sure I’m not falling prey to second thoughts on how I’ve spent the last (fill in the blank, depending on the reunion) years.

Following A Different Path

I didn’t follow the same career path as the vast majority of my college classmates, choosing instead to primarily stay home and raise/homeschool my children. Of course, as our little party on Saturday showed, my version of staying home and raising my children probably didn’t look like most other people’s version for several reasons:

  1. I did LOTS of writing during that time.
  2. I did LOTS of traveling (with and without my children).
  3. And I taught LOTS of other people’s kids while I was at it.

Traveling More and Writing More

In fact, last year when I was closing down my homeschool resource center, Creative Learning Connection, I often heard the “What will you do now?” question. I usually answered: “Travel more and write more.” People that knew me well often questioned how I could do more of either, but I have!

So, just like the last 40 years of my life didn’t fit most people’s expectations, it’s likely that my future years (how ever many God blesses me with) will not look much like that of most of my peers (but why should I start now!).

Retired Government Club Advisor

I have officially passed on the mantle of Government Club Advisor/Coach/Mentor to family members for next fall. (Scheduling two cruises for that time of year sort of forced the issue.) And I’m more or less retired from teaching classes now (though I’m not sure the students who will be at my house in a couple of days for Shakespeare will believe that).

Favorite Memories

But I’ll settle for the fact that I’m semi-retired for now. And as I move into this somewhat new phase, I will be looking back on Saturday’s event with great pleasure. In fact, the real fun of watching and listening to the presentation was seeing how many people gave similar answers on how I had impacted their lives – most had to do with travel, or Mock Trial, or both, with some general homeschool encouragement and Shakespeare thrown in there for good measure. And considering my favorite memories of the last 40 years revolve around pretty much those same things, it was cool to hear others sharing my sentiment.

I think the saying in the little plaque I received as a gift, says it well, “I’m not retired. I’m just getting started.”

Now, off to help at a homeschool graduation, and then back to trying to finish that Michelangelo book I’ve been trying to write since the beginning of March!

Happy traveling and learning.

Cathy

Relaxing with Family

Fun at Family Reunions

I spent this past weekend attending a family reunion. The reunion itself, with our extended family members, was only about two hours long. But, for the second year in a row, attending the reunion gave my sisters and I an excuse to spend extended time together with each other and with our mom. In theory, we shouldn’t need such excuses, and we have worked hard at getting the four of us together at least once a year for a few days for quite some time now. But with the four of us now living in four different parts of the country, we will take all the excuses we can find.

In addition to spending more time with each other we spent additional time with my mom’s only surviving sister and the cousin that we’re all closest to (who both live in a fifth state).  All of that extended the “reunion time” by several days in each direction – giving us the “excuse” to spend a week away from our respective jobs and just enjoying each other’s company.

A Great Way to Spend a Weekend

It was a great weekend – fairly low key, with little planned outside the reunion time itself. But around that we ate together and played together (we’re all big board game and card game players!). And we swam together and walked together.

No History Lessons This Time

And while I am a historian by nature, and love learning the history of the areas I visit, I don’t have to turn every trip into a history lesson. (My children may have doubted that fact when they were growing up, but that was a different time with different priorities!) I certainly want to become immersed in the history related to many of my trips, but this wasn’t one of those times.  This was just a trip to relax and to enjoy each other’s company.

Family Games

I was struck by one comment that was made at the reunion. With twelve children, I’m accustomed to being the outlier when it comes to family size. But I do have a cousin who also has a large family. When the topic of a conversation turned to games my cousin mentioned that because of the younger children they didn’t play many games with the older children. Since the youngest ones would either want to play with the games that were above their heads and would likely get ahold of the pieces and ruin the games.

Legos v. Duplos

The comment reminded me of a friend in Germany many years ago that didn’t plan to buy actual Legos (instead of Duplos) until her youngest child was old enough to safely play with Legos. Since there is a twenty-one year gap between my oldest and youngest, my oldest children would never have played with Legos.  And they would never have played some really great games had I waited on those. (You can see some of our favorites on my other blog,  at www.CreativeLearningConnection.com) For us, dealing with the ramifications of Legos and games aimed at older kids and adults was worth it.

The Value of Games

Throughout my life, games have been a big part of how our family relaxed and related. And that’s something I have happily passed on to my children, and as they get older, hope to help pass on to the grandchildren. This week’s reunion time has been another wonderful reminder of how much joy families can get from engaging in games together.

Happy playing!

Cathy