Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Numbering Our Days

My children are growing up so fast. The older they get the faster the days seem to hurtle by. I try to make a conscious effort to slow down and be in the moment.

Last week my girls and one of their friends wanted to go to the park. I was reminded of the days when "park" was synonymous with "playground." We would go to the park just to get out of the house and burn off some energy. This time the playground was ignored. We were on a photo shoot (practicing for senior pictures) and the mission was to find the most scenic backdrops. The girls had fun taking turns posing for the camera. I was impressed at some of the pictures they ended up with.

It was a magical morning. I had to fight the urge of feeling like I ought to be doing something more productive. Spending idle moments with my children is not time wasted.

So teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom. --Psalm 90:12

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Seeing Stars

Did you get to see the meteor showers a couple weeks ago? My family loves to look at the stars, and this year we remembered about the Perseid Meteor Showers in the middle of August. It was rainy and overcast here the night of August 12 which is when they were supposed to peak, but August 13 was a clear night. About 11:00 p.m. we loaded up the kids and the dog, took along jackets and blankets and drove out in the country away from the city lights. It took us awhile to find a good spot to pull over. We spread our blankets and lay on our backs waiting for our eyes to adjust to the darkness. Pretty soon: "Wow! Did you see it?!" It was hard to know what part of the sky to watch, so usually we just caught the movement of each "shooting start" in the corner of our eyes before it was gone. We watched for 30 or 45 minutes and then the kids thought they heard something rustling in the woods (wolves, perhaps, they thought) and they complained of being cold... and so, since it was getting late we headed home again. Next year maybe we can remember to go camping around that time.

In the meantime, Lyle has discovered Google Sky Map-- a very cool FREE app for his new Android phone. One thing that has always frustrated us about looking at the stars is that we don't do it often enough to be familiar with all the constellations and major stars, so we're never sure of what we're looking at. With Google Sky Map, all we have to do is hold Lyle's phone up in front or above us and, with the wonder that is technology, it knows and labels for us exactly what we see!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Lolo Motorway

This past weekend we took "a step back in time" and traveled the Lolo Motorway which follows one of the most difficult parts of the Lewis and Clark trail. "Motorway" makes it sound like a super highway or something, doesn't it? Um. It's not. It's a very rough 75-mile long dirt road. I guess back in the '30s when the old Indian trail was widened into a road suitable for automobile travel that's what roads were called. If you could drive your Model T on it, then it was a motorway.

 We began our journey on Friday evening by driving east on I-90 to Montana. Our student driver was behind the wheel for this leg of the trip. It was just a little hairy for her over Lookout Pass with some road construction and Friday evening traffic on an already twisty part of the Interstate, but she did very well.
In Missoula we turned southwest to head back into Idaho toward the Lolo Pass. We didn't bring our trailer this time, for obvious reasons. We tent-camped on Friday night in the forest just a few miles before the turn-off for the Motorway.
Saturday was a beautiful day for a drive in the mountains. It was 41 degrees, clear and sunny, as we left the campground. Starting out, the road was relatively wide and smooth.
Our new-to-us Toyota Tundra was all clean and shiny early in the day. It didn't stay that way for long.
We didn't get very far before we had to stop to fix a rattle. Really? We're going to be driving on a dirt road all day and there is one rattle that bugs you? Okay, then. We were all very happy that he found the loose wire and was able to "fix" the rattle so it wouldn't be bugging him the rest of the day.
In some places we could see across the valley to the next mountain where the road continued on.
"From this mountain I could observe high rugged mountains in every direction as far as I could see." --William Clark, September 15, 1805.
Since we had read how Lewis and Clark nearly died in the deep snow in these very mountains in mid-September, it was hard for us to imagine winter coming on so quickly in less than a month. Though it was pleasantly cool (in the 60s and low 70s) throughout the day, there were late-summer wildflowers in abundance and no signs of frost.
 Most of the route the road was pretty narrow. On the rare occasion that we met another vehicle, one would have to pull over  into the brush to let the other pass.
One section of the forest was burned out. We remembered bad fires in this area several  years ago, but couldn't recall just how long ago it was. Maybe 3-5 years based on the size of the little new trees?
Interesting rock formations added to the beauty around us.
A sparkling lake which was much further down the mountain than it seemed at first glance. R was pretty sure she'd be able to throw a rock into the lake. So Lyle and the kids had a little contest to see who could throw a rock the furthest. Daddy won, of course, but none of them came anywhere close to hitting the lake.
In places the road was very rough, rocky and steep. (I failed to get pictures of some of the worst places.) We were glad we hadn't attempted it in the car.
By the end of the day, the truck was covered in dust. We felt a little like that ourselves after 9 hours on the Motorway. Yes, it really did take us 9 hours to travel 75 miles! As we came down out of the mountains the temperature climbed into the '90s.
Rather than tent-camping again we had made reservations to stay in a cabin Saturday night, so we could take showers and be ready to go to church Sunday morning with our dear friends who pastor in central Idaho.
It was a lovely weekend!

Monday, August 16, 2010

First Day of School... sorta...

Highway High School is taking up school early this year. The public schools around here don't begin until after Labor Day, and with my summer work we have usually found it most convenient to wait and start then as well. However, this year our school will have both a senior and a freshman, so we've decided to get a head-start on the year just to give us a little more wiggle room. The plan is that the girls will get to continue to sleep in mornings through the rest of August, but just one hour past their normal getting-up time (not as late as they feel like it, which they've been doing). They they will work on literature and math on their own for 3 weeks. (Yay for Teaching Textbooks math on the computer!) After Labor Day, we will start a full school schedule with an earlier rising time and adding in the other subjects.

We went last week for a little back-to-school shopping spree. I told them they could each spend up to $20 on school supplies, so they had fun picking out pens, notebooks, and other "necessities" for their desks. It's just a little bittersweet as I realize this is my last year to have two students. We are looking forward to a fun senior year with my oldest, but I'm sure there will be many poignant moments throughout. How could it have gone by so fast?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Summertime...

As usual, it's been a busy summer. Can that be my excuse as to why I haven't been keeping up very well with my blog posting? Yep. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it...

In the last few weeks we've had... my parents visit us for a week... which involved sewing, shopping, picnics, visiting, and read-alouds of stacks of old family letters... Fun! ...eye doctor appointment... new glasses for one child... orthodontist appointment... braces adjustment for the other child... annual check-up for me with a slight scare thrown in for good measure... Blech! ...camping trip... reading... family times... making music... Relaxing! ...Lyle's brother and sister-in-law from Kansas in the area for a few days... a family wedding... Busy! ... last homeschool convention of the season... a solo trip to Seattle for me... Stressful! ... sleeping-in for the kids... planning for the upcoming school-year... long drives... looking at stars...  cooking out... and yet long hours of work... Ahhh.... even with all the ups and downs we've just been enjoying the summer! Hope you have, too!