Jolly Old England

So how is Matt doing over across the pond in England?

Jolly good! Thanks for asking!

Communication has been tough – since his cell phone doesn’t have an international plan and the internet in his flat is too sketchy for Skype.

And then there’s the time difference. (We keep one clock in the house set to “Matt time”!)

But thanks to Facebook – we know he’s alive and well and having the time of his life!

OxfordBut that’s to be expected – he’s in Oxford after all – soaking in the history!

He stood in the dining room where Lawrence of Arabia ate.

He meet C.S. Lewis’s personal secretary – in person – and talked to him.

Windsor CastleHe toured Windsor Castle – while the queen was in residence – but didn’t get an audience with her majesty.

archers hole windsor castleOf course – after reading many Henty books and playing endless hours of Age of Empires in his youth – he would notice and take a picture of the archer’s hole in the castle wall.

I wonder if it looked like he imagined it would?
Roman Baths It still amazes me to know he can hop on a bus or train and spend the day at the Roman Baths in Bath, Somerset.

But I know he’s still my son –

oxford book storeSince he immediately found the book store!

That’s my boy!

Home School Conference Time

By the time you are reading this – I will be  immersed in the unique world of the the yearly NICHE home school conference.

And I’m so excited!

Jan and I look forward to this weekend all year! Two wonderful days together!

We’ll walk hand in hand through the curriculum hall – drooling over books and resources. Debating over purchases. Adding to our extensive library.

Running into friends and family in the hallways between sessions, laughing and catching up with life.

Sitting side by side during keynotes – gleaning wisdom and encouragement from the speakers.

Having deep conversations over our picnic lunches.

Honing, refining our vision for our family.

Sharing our thoughts, our convictions, our dreams, our realities.

Making life-changing decisions. (Was it just a year ago that we heard John Stonestreet speak and sent Matt to Summit, which lead to his semester in Colorado, which lead to Oxford?)

Alone, together, surrounded by thousands of people, but belonging to each other.

A team.

On the same page.

United.

I can’t wait!

What a Weekend!

What a weekend!

There were special friends who traveled 418 miles to help in the celebrating.

Dagmar and Dollface There were cousins, aunts, uncles, grandpas, grandmas, lots and lots of friends, and even a pirate.

Pirate DorothyWe love you Dorothy!

And there was Seth.

SethThe crazy one who kept us laughing all weekend.

And there was food. Lots of food.

Graduation SpreadIn addition to the purple punch, all the sandwiches and massive amounts of cookies – we also had a coffee bar in honor of Dagmar’s current coffee obsession.

And there were 7 gallons of puppy chow – served in a pirate basket with a silver scoop.

Which produced many puppy chow smiles.

puppy chow smileThere was an incredible video about Dagmar produced by my talented sister and niece.

It made me cry.

And there was carpet ball, kite flying, a new kitty, cute babies and a random dog who showed up for the fun and trotted back down the road at the end of the party.

random puppy and cute babyThere were long conversations, lots of laughter, a balloon bouquet, and pretty flowers.

And photos, and hugs, and just plain silliness.

There was even an epic – very intense game of Ultimate Frisbee.

ultimate frisbeeBut most of all – there were memories, both old and new.

Many, many special memories of the little girl she used to be and the amazing young women she now is.

It was worth all the effort – every minute.

Graduation Thoughts

The preparations are finally done…

Grad 12and graduation is tomorrow.

It’s been a busy time and not just with the baking and cleaning and painting.

Just think of all the math page, flash cards, phonics books, science experiments, grammar lessons and field trips…

…the pages read, words written, pictures drawn and ideas shared…

…the 4H projects, Sunday school classes, American Girl books, and culinary creations.

So busy – and it went by so quickly!

It seemed like just yesterday that she was a precious newborn that her 19 month old brother called his “pretty little baby doll”.

hos-i-pi-tal GirlOr the curly headed toddler who asked for the book  Curious George Goes to the Hos-i-pit-al every night for weeks at a time until it finally drove that same brother to hide it so he wouldn’t have to hear it again.

Wasn’t it just yesterday that she was the pony-tailed, freckled face girl that spent hours playing in the sand box, climbing the the mulberry trees,  and making up crazy tricks on the swings?

Dagmar's graduationWhen did that bubbly little chatterbox grew into the beautiful young woman in the cap and gown?

The one who drinks coffee, wears heels and loves her jeans and flannel shirts?

The confident, smiling girl with the love of adventure?

When?

How did we get from Dick and Jane to Advanced Biology so quickly?

As a new mom I remember hearing older and wiser women sagely telling me to cherish each minute because it goes by in the blink of an eye.

It didn’t seem possible at the time – but they were so right.

So blessedly right.

Congratulations sweet girl! You make your Momma proud.

It’s All Free Today!

Bib-lio-phile: noun a lover of books especially for qualities of format; also : a book collector

That’s me! 🙂

So when a home schooling friend offered me over 1000 home school books and resources for FREE – I was almost giddy!

So what does one do with boxes and boxes and boxes of books?

Books
First you spend hours pouring through every box, touching each and every book and resource. This takes hours because you get distracting and start reading them.

Then you make big piles of the books that you cannot live without and try to fit them on your already full bookshelves.

Meanwhile – your children are also going through each and every box, touching each and every book  and also have large piles of books that they cannot live without – because you trained them from a young age to love books – especially when they are free. 🙂

More BooksThen you take the many, many, many boxes of books that still remain – and lay them all out neatly in the basement. All over the basement – as in – you must rearrange the basement to make room for them all.
FriendsThen you call your homeschooling friends and invite them over for a book party – an “everything is free so please fill as many boxes as you wish and take them to live at your house” book party.

Would you believe they went through each and every box and touched each and every resource and made big piles of books that they just could not live without?

And then their children did the same thing. 🙂

After a wonderful afternoon  they took their boxes of books and stuffed in the van with all the children and are probably – right at this very minute – trying to fit them on already full bookshelves.

How do I know this?

Because I’m a bibliophile. It’s what we do.

November Snow

Dear children of mine,

I interrupt your regularly scheduled school day to bring you this special report.

Last night while we slept – it snowed.
SnowSix inches of wet sticky snow.

And although you may think that it’s really quite exciting and even somewhat pretty, I must bring a touch of reality to your morning.

The heavy snow has knocked down the electric fence and all the cows are all out.

While you were drinking your hot chocolate for breakfast – they were walking across downed wire and eating the hay bales set aside for their winter consumption.

snowPlease drop whatever you are doing and immediately put on your winter coats, snow boots, gloves and hats.

You will find them still in the tubs in the basement where we put them last spring -because your mother somehow missed the 6 inches of snow in the forecast last night and was not prepared.

Then report to the back pasture for a morning of adventure.

We’ll call it PE.

Thank you,

Your mother

 

Playing Hooky – Again

Yes. It’s true. I played hooky – again.

I’m becoming a habitual offender! 🙂

At least this time I brought the kids with me!

the moms We met up with several other home school moms and their kiddos at a local park to enjoy one of the last wonderful days of fall.

While the kids played and played and played –

The moms sat and talked – catching up on life, sharing ideas, and just soaking up the sunshine.

Our biggest entertainment –

babiesWatching the babies be cute.

It was one of those “easy” kind of days that makes me so glad to be home schooling.

kiddosI’m thinking the kids were kind of glad, too!

 

Leaving the Nest

flying the coopToday my firstborn flew the coop.

I knew this would happen eventually and I must admit that I even dreaded it a little – but it was a surprisingly blessed event.

But really – how could it be anything else?

After months of prayer and seeking what God would have him do, Matt decided the first of August to apply for Summit Semester – an intensive 3 month study program in the mountains of Colorado fashioned after Francis Schaeffer’s L’Abri in Switzerland.

After a whirlwind of applications, references and interviews – he was accepted and the money he needed was provided.

In the span of 3 weeks, God opened the door and Matt was so excited to walk through!

We had very little time to figure out how to get him out there, what to pack (just how many bars of soap does one need for 3 months – assuming you actually shower?), and how to tie up the loose ends (like Matt’s on-line business.)

But in the end all the details worked themselves out.

He took off this morning, heading west on the adventure of a lifetime!

Will we miss him? Oh yes. We already do – although his siblings are in heated discussions about who gets his room! 😉

But we are so excited for him!

What will he do when the three months are over? Good question. I wish I knew the answer. But God didn’t give Matt a 5-year plan – just enough light for the next step.

But then – that’s all we really need.

Just walking in faith – one step at a time.

Go with God son. We’re proud of you. And we’re praying.

Graduation

Graduation 007Graduation is tomorrow.

Everybody’s been asking me if I’m ready for the big day.

Ready?

Well – the house is clean, the food is prepped, the invitations are sent, the cap and gown are pressed and we have several house projects completed in anticipation of the after-graduation party.

But am I ready?

Hmmm…good question.

Is it ever possible to be ready for major life changes? Was I ready when Matt was born? When we sat down at the kitchen table and started school? When he started driving?

Yet – at this point – after all the planning and preparations – I think I’m ready to just get it done and get back to normal.

But wait – that’s the problem isn’t it.

After tomorrow our “normal” will be different.

At the end of the summer there will be only be four students sitting around our table doing school.

My first-born will be out of the nest.

And it’s that thought – dear friends – that leaves me in a puddle.

When my sister Teresa graduated her oldest – she would burst into tears whenever anyone even said the word graduation.

I used to tease her about it.

Silly me.

I guess it’s my turn now.

Somebody please pass me the tissues – ready or not – here we go!