Saturday, June 21, 2014

Graduation Day

The third Saturday in June was a beautiful day for a backyard graduation. The late afternoon sun filtering through the trees made a lovely setting for the girl graduate in her pink cap and gown. (She was the only graduate in her "class" so she got to choose the color.)
Her teacher (me)... and her "principal" (her dad)... made a few comments and presented her with her diploma.
Then her pastor-grandpa shared some thoughts and offered a blessing. The gathered friends blew bubbles at her as she tossed her cap into the air.
And with that... my homeschooling journey was over.

 Sixteen years I've invested in my children's education. Long days of wondering if we were covering everything we should be. Delightful days reading piles of wonderful stories. Challenging days when nothing seemed to go as planned. But oh, it was so worth it!

 As my mother and I previewed the PowerPoint presentation that I put together for the celebration, she commented, "The years have gone by almost as fast as those slides are changing." I agree with her. How could sixteen years possibly have gone by already?
My emotions have been bittersweet. In some ways, I wish I could go back and do some things differently. On the other hand, I'm excited to see what the future has in store for my now-adult children.

I am so grateful that I had the privilege of being home with them all throughout their childhood. Motherhood is a blessing I don't take for granted.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Washington Trip

The second weekend of June was my last convention trip of the season, and this time Lyle got to go with me! I really missed him traveling with me (and doing the loading/unloading and driving) on my other trips this year. This trip was to Seattle, one of our favorite cities.
We were even able to sneak away for a couple of hours to take a spin in the Great Wheel which is new since we were in Seattle for our 25th anniversary in 2010.
My team in Seattle was made up of some long-time friends, two of whom are Sonlight graduates! We had a good time working together and enjoyed hanging out with the team for Sonlight's sister company, BookShark, as well. Then on Saturday evening some friends from Idaho drove over to spend a little time with us. 

The trip was much too short for everything we would have liked to do... but to be honest I was happy to get home and put my feet up after 9 conventions this season! This was my 15th year as a Sonlight Curriculum Consultant and quite possibly my most challenging one yet.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Virginia Trip

The first weekend of June I was part of a larger team that hosted the Sonlight booth at the HEAV convention in Richmond, Virginia. I would have liked to see a little bit of the historic district, having never been to Richmond before... or Virginia, really, for that matter. But... it was a business trip, so sight-seeing was not on the schedule.
We flew in on Wednesday and got set up for the convention early in the day on Thursday, so we had a couple of hours to relax by the pool before time for the convention to start. One thing I noticed was how different the air "felt" in the southeast than here in the mountains... softer and heavier. It wasn't too hot that weekend, though, which was nice.
HEAV is one of the larger homeschool conventions so we definitely stayed busy. Our team was made up of a group of ladies (and one husband) whom I've become friends with over the years, and we enjoyed working together. 

And that was convention #8 for my 2014 homeschool convention season. Maybe next time I go to Virginia I'll get to see a little more of it. Or maybe not... ya just never know!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Vintage China

 For several years I've enjoyed collecting random pieces of pretty vintage china when I find it at a garage sale or thrift store. Those of you who have been reading my blog for awhile know about my eclectic violet tea set. Other than that the only full set of china I have is a set that Mother gave me that originally belonged to my great-grandmother.
I have treasured Granny's china and enjoyed displaying it and using it, but the pattern is not one I would have chosen. I like a delicate floral pattern. In fact, my favorite piece (other than the violet dishes) is a sweet little bread-and-butter plate I picked up for 50 cents about 3 years ago.

Imagine how thrilled I was this morning to discover a full service for 8 of that very pattern at a Salvation Army store we just "happened" to go in!
The set included dinner plates, soup bowls, salad plates, dessert bowls, and cups and saucers, plus a serving bowl, a cream pitcher, and sugar bowl. There were only 6 cups, but 8 of everything else (except the serving pieces, of course.) The price marked was $52.10. The dishes were all stacked on a counter so I thought maybe they had been spoken for. I asked the lady behind the counter who told me she had just put them out.

Lyle had given me some money a few weeks ago that he said I was to spend on something just for me. I had been hoarding it for just such a time. As I stood deliberating over it, the manager announced over the loud-speaker, "Our special today is 25% off brick-a-brack items..." That's when I noticed that the price tag was labeled "brick-a-brack!"

"This would be 25% off?" I asked the lady.

"Yes," she assured me. "It's labeled brick-a-brack, so that counts."

"I'll take it!" I declared.

She offered to wrap it and box it up for me while I continued to look around.

I went to find Lyle. "I just bought a set of china dishes," I told him. He knows my fondness for pretty china.

We were casually wandering through the furniture department when I spotted a hutch.

Lyle said, "I guess you need that to put your dishes in, don't you?"

It was marked $80. Mmm. I didn't really want to spend that much.

"Furniture is 50% off today," Lyle told me.

"It is?!" I guess I had been so tuned in to the "brick-a-brack" special that I tuned out everything else.

 So I got my dishes for $38... and the hutch to put them in for $40.
My "new" dishes coordinate nicely with Granny's china (which includes service for 6) so now I have enough dishes that I can have up to 14 guests and still set a pretty table! Before, any time we had more than 2 people for dinner I had to either use every-day dishes or paper-ware.
Naturally I had to come home and rearrange the living room to fit the hutch in just so, and then arrange all my pretty dishes in it. What fun!
How about a cup of tea?

A Cuddle of Bunnies

"Mom, can you step outside for a moment?" she asked.

"Why? What do you need?" I wondered.

"I just want to show you something real quick. It's so cute!"

So I followed her out the door and to the end of the porch.

"Be real quiet," she cautioned. "See? Two babies and a mama!"

They were cuddled up against the house next door.
"How darling!" I whispered. "Let me go get my camera. I bet I can get pictures with the zoom lens."

Even from 6 or 8 feet away, the whir of the camera frightened the first little bunny back into the hole under the porch.
I'm not sure that the larger bunny is the mama. 

I think maybe he's the brother bunny with two little sister bunnies.

But who am I to judge? 

Bunnies don't put pink and blue booties on their babies so we can tell the girls from the boys!
And then there was one!

Mama or big brother... whichever it was... anyway, it was the bravest one.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Where Did I Leave Off?

Once upon a time I used to blog... It's been awhile, I know. I guess you'd like to know about some of the things that have been keeping my life so busy and my schedule filled, wouldn't you? Because I know you are just avidly interested in all my Ramblin's! Well, some of you are, anyway. I'm pretty sure. And for those of you who aren't... feel free to just ignore me. It's okay. Really.

So... where was I last time we met here? Let's see... I'd been to Alaska... and then home to Colorado again. Oh, but my spring travels weren't over. So I guess that's where I should pick up.
In May, my team (consisting of my friend Sherry, daughter Laura, and myself) hosted the Sonlight booth at the Homeschool Iowa Conference in Des Moines, Iowa... where the farmers apparently drive their John Deere tractors right downtown! This was scene as we drove into downtown from the airport.

Our adventures that weekend included having to transport the booth display in a small SUV (with multiple trips) instead of the mini-van I had reserved, because the rental car agency didn't actually have a mini-van... and walking 7 or 8 blocks through the Sky Walk system in Des Moines trying to find somewhere to eat between set-up and the first night of the convention. One of us had a fractured foot and another was operating on low blood-sugar and dehydration (or something!) so we were quite the sight hobbling along through the maze of passageways above the city streets. We also got to hear comedian Brad Stine on Friday night while we were there.

And that was Convention #7 for me for the 2014 homeschool convention season.

Just to keep things organized... and because I'm afraid I'll never get finished if I try to do all the updates in one big ol' long post, I'm going to post about each event or activity in separate posts. It may take me several days... but I guess since I'm already this far behind, that won't matter much, will it?

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Candle Bible Handbook - Review

The Candle Bible Handbook is a good supplement for Bible study. While it is not an in-depth reference book it does provide a great overview and short outline of each book of the Bible. It is "lavishly illustrated" with maps, charts, photos, and drawings to help the reader "see" what the Bible lands and customs were like.

I have recently started teaching Sunday School again, and this is the kind of book I like to have on my shelf to refer to as I prepare for the lesson. The cover blurb claims it's "the best book to have beside your Bible!" and while I wouldn't go so far as to say that, I know it will be one I'll put to good use. Thank you to Kregel Publications for sending me a review copy.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Spring Update

And again, weeks have gone by without an update... but by now I'm sure you know what that means, right? Busy-ness on the home front!

Last time I posted from Fairbanks, Alaska hoping to report in with pictures of the Northern Lights. Sadly, I didn't get to see them. I had found out, just a day or two before I left, that often hotels take a shuttle out in the middle of the night if the Lights are out. You can put in a request at the front desk for a wake-up call if they end up taking the van out. I inquired at my hotel, and sure enough, they offered that service. So I put my name on the list... but still no luck. 

I did get to see the Alaska Pipeline. Not that it's much consolation since it's always there... not an elusive thing like the Northern Lights.
 Didn't see any Alaskan wildlife either... but hey, there were moose droppings along the Pipeline! Does that count? No? I didn't think so.
Speaking of moose droppings... some enterprising outfit has come up with a way to market the stuff! In the souvenir aisle at WalMart, no less. All kinds of "punny" things made with shellacked and preserved moose poop! There was even a "lipstick" that had a label that said, "It won't heal your chapped lips, but it'll keep you from licking them!" Um. Yeah. I reckon it would do that!

Home again. It's been a busy few weeks with a special weekend conference at church, and getting ready again for my next trip: Des Moines, Iowa this weekend.
One evening we enjoyed a double-date with some friends at a pizza place up in the mountains. We ate on the deck overlooking a mountain stream. It's been a lot of fun to find new "favorite" places as we settle in.

The spring weather here in Colorado has been very fickle. We've had some lovely, warm spring days. The tulips and the cherry tree bloomed and faded. Trees have leafed out and the lilacs were in full bloom last week. And then... on Mother's Day it started snowing. And it snowed for hours. Days even. Well, two days anyway. We ended up with several inches... as in 6 or 8 inches. In mid-May.  I was not amused. We did not move south for this!

Honestly, it wouldn't have been too bad because, obviously, it is already melting quickly away. However, the heavy, wet snow accumulated on the leaves of the trees, and the weight actually broke several limbs on trees in our yard. We're waiting to see what the final damage looks like once the snow has completely melted and the trees and lilac bushes have had a chance to recover. We are planning to have Rebecca's graduation in our backyard in June, so I hope it won't be too ugly.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Sight-seeing in Alaska

 My hotel room in Anchorage faced toward the water, but there were tall buildings in the way, so my view was limited to a narrow opening between the buildings. There was a beautiful sunset Monday evening, the day I arrived. After that, the skies were mostly gray and not beautiful. Also, the conventions kept us busy so there wasn't a lot of time for sightseeing in that area.
 Yesterday we flew to Fairbanks in an 80-passenger prop plane that was only about a quarter full. My 6 other flights in the past week and a half had been filled to capacity so it felt luxurious to have all that extra room. Plus it was a clear, sunny day perfect for looking out the window! Too bad that flight only lasted an hour!
 I have a much better view of the sky from my hotel in Fairbanks with interesting things to see. I love the pretty white church across the river. I briefly thought about attending Easter services there, but when I found out it was a Catholic church I decided it would probably be too awkward. The river appears to be frozen still, though I seriously doubt it's solid by this time.

After settling into our hotel, my co-worker and I decided to drive up to the Chena Hot Springs resort, about 70 miles away. We didn't go in the hot springs, and we were too late in the day for the sled-dog kennel tour, but we enjoyed seeing the resident reindeer. They are smaller than I imagined... more the size of... well, deer! I thought they were closer in size to elk. I don't know why. They are cuter than I thought, too, with personable faces and short fuzzy antlers. No red noses, though.
 We did get to tour the Ice Museum, featuring some impressive ice sculptures.
 It is 24 degrees inside the Ice Museum. Since the day was sunny and in the 50s I had mindlessly slipped on sandals, not thinking of the possibility of having to walk around in slush... or being in a "Deep Freeze" for half an hour!
Our tour guide described the process of how the ice was sculpted. The whole time, my toes were saying, "The ice artists are crazy to want to work in this environment for hours at a time!"
 The Ice Museum even included two bedrooms that you could stay in for $600 per night. Not to worry, the guide told us, the beds aren't currently made up. When you check in (at 10 p.m.) they will create a "nest" for you of reindeer hide, which he assured us is very warm.
 After the tour, we enjoyed dinner in the resort's rustic restaurant, before heading back to our hotel in Fairbanks.
 The Catholics were having a late-evening Holy Saturday service. This picture was taken about 9:00 p.m. I don't know what they were doing gathered around the front steps like this, but it seemed to involve a small fire.
 I wanted to stay up late to see if I could see the Northern Lights. The hours of darkness are pretty short this time of year. I took the picture above at about 10:00. The sun officially sets about 9:45, but the glow lingers on the horizon for a long time. I heard that the best opportunity for viewing the Northern Lights is between 12:30 and 1:30. I was just too sleepy to stay awake that late. But, as it turns out, they weren't all that dramatic last night. Not sure I would have been able to see them in town anyway. They are supposed to be better tonight, and I took a nap this afternoon, so I'm going to try again! That is the #1 thing I wanted to see in Alaska!
At 6:00 this morning, a group was gathering for a sunrise service on the bridge over the window. I enjoyed celebrating our Risen Lord along with them from the warmth and comfort of my room. Later in the morning I was able to log onto our church's live stream feed to celebrate remotely with my own family.

Hope you've had a wonderful Easter... 

...and I hope my next post will feature shots of the Aurora Borealis!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Day 2 in Anchorage

Today is the 2nd day of the Anchorage conference. Our booth is next to our sister company, BookShark, and the 4 of us have been having a good time, though there hasn't been much time for sightseeing. We do have weekend off, so I'm hoping the weather will be clear enough to get some nice pictures. I would love to see the Northern Lights but I don't know how likely that is. We'll see!