Homeschooling: The Beginning Of An Ending

I can’t believe I wrote this post eight years ago. Today arrived much faster than I anticipated: Kayla’s first day of her senior year, and my first day of my last year of homeschooling.

Does that mean it’s my senior year, too? Because it kinda feels that way.

Just look at this cute little second grader working on her “months of the year” with those Saxon Math worksheets.And learning keyboarding skills years ago on that ancient computer in our dining room…
…to working Algebra II problems at the kitchen table. Today, I’m remembering all the highlights of this homeschool journey…The days and hours at home to nurture and learn with my kiddos.

The big breakfasts, lunches at the picnic table or by the fireplace, and snacks at 10am and 3pm.

The read-alouds on the couch every afternoon, where I was either fighting off sleep from exhaustion or tears over The Bronze Bow.

Pregnant frog dissections

The family prayers around the table after “Bible Time.”

The wonderful friends we all made – me with an increasing number of truly incredible women, and my kids with sweet playmates-turned-confidantes and sisters in Christ through the years.

The education I received from educating my own kids.

Protocol Nights..Boston Dinner and Dancing Cruises

The thrill of seeing a child learn to read and write, and being used by God to teach them those basics.

The stages of maturity we celebrated.

The field trips to museums, symphonies, farms, big cities, re-enactments, mountains, theaters, and ponds.

The first day of school special breakfasts (cookies? pie? ice cream?) and new supplies.

The liberty to learn through a biblical worldview, and to consider other worldviews against it.

The swapping of kids from house to house for school with friends.

The sick days and snow days – on which someone was always doing school.

Tuesday “class” days with peers


The freedom.

The flexibility.

The fun.

Several years ago, I was tutoring a high school seminar on economics (in Classical Conversations Challenge I) and we learned about “cost-benefit” analysis. I couldn’t help but think about our choice to homeschool in those terms. The costs are pretty high in choosing the homeschool route (and I’m not just talking about living on one income and buying textbooks), but I believe the benefits outweigh those costs, and I would do it again.

I don’t regret any of the last 17 years of this homeschool journey. (My kids might regret a few!) Oh, I have a lot of moments that I regret, mostly having to do with my own impatience, but today I’m thanking God for the years and for His sustaining grace throughout.

Thanking Him, also, for the blessing of all these highlights…or benefits.

One more year. One last kid.

Senior year, here we come!

Spring: “Filled & Fried”

“We were both so filled at Easter, and also kinda fried,” is what my friend Christina said the other day when we were catching up via text message. (Hopefully she doesn’t mind me quoting her.)

She is also a pastor’s wife, but you don’t have to have that role to feel that way. Everyone I talk to lately has been feeling the same…filled by the warm weather, the meaningful times of worship, the sweet fellowship, the fun activities, but also fried by the frenzied pace of it all.

Here’s a little glimpse into our spring – things that have passed and things upcoming. Warning: this is a long post (again), but I just needed to get it all down.

Weeks of Shakespeare rehearsals and then a weekend of performances – also known as the time of year I get to live out my secret ambition of being a hairstylist. Jessica’s hair was a bit of a dilemma, since she had to turn into a boy in the middle of the play (As You Like It) and then back into a girl.

Kayla did an excellent job in her smaller role, which she always has to balance with her track practices and meets. Lots of hurrying back and forth for both of us the last weeks of March.

Our church’s women’s retreat had been booked and on the calendar for a year, and then the Shakespeare play was booked for the same weekend. This meant I could only help with dress rehearsals and one performance on a Thursday night.  Friday, it was off to New Hampshire in the middle of a raging March 30-April 1 snowstorm!

Every time a woman arrived at the conference center, I was silently thanking the Lord for safe travel. It snowed for over 30 hours and left over 18 inches behind before it was all over, but in the end, all of these ladies made it, and we all had the best time being snowed in together.


With Sarah hosting games, this is Elisabeth and me – about to compete at charades.
Household chores the theme; “Dusting a lamp” was our acting assignment. 😩
Every Sunday after church we hosted a small group Bible study, except that it wasn’t very small. Some of you know that one of my favorite things to do is have people over for lunch after church. Hosting a small group at that time is really just a sneaky way for me to get to do this regularly.

We enjoyed discussions on the book of John, and then broke into smaller groups for prayer.

Abby and Maddie, two Mount Holyoke students, came home after the first service with me every week and helped prepare the meal. Kayla and I loved spending time in the kitchen with them chopping veggies and making multiple pots of coffee.

(We also did some informal scientific research during those weeks and came to the conclusion that more women than men enjoy hazelnut coffee, which led to changes in grocery purchases, and number of pots of regular vs. hazelnut since we had far more women in the group than men!)

I should have put these next photos right after the retreat photos, because less than 45 minutes after I arrived home from the women’s retreat in New Hampshire, Robert and I left for Indianapolis for The Gospel Coalition Conference. Unlike the scheduling of the Shakespeare play which we had no idea would fall on the same weekend, we were well aware of the back-to-back nature of these events. But the conference was going to be in celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, and the list of speakers included all of our favorites and more. We couldn’t resist, and we’re so glad we made it happen.
Josh Moody is one of Robert’s good friends and a fellow pastor. He used to pastor in Connecticut, but is now at College
Church in Wheaton, IL. We had fun catching up over dinner one evening. Josh has written several books lately –
you should look him up at God Centered Life!

I’m just now realizing I didn’t get a picture of our whole group, as we had friends from Ohio join us, but Chris and Katie were with us for the whole conference – and beyond. (!) Both from Texas, newly married, Chris an Amherst College grad, and Katie a University of Texas grad, they are now on staff with Intervarsity on our local college campuses and a part of our church as well.

It was so fun to have them with us, but I think they got much more time with us than they bargained for, as our flights home were canceled mid-trip, and we were forced to take hotel vouchers in Detroit. It was quite an adventure, and I think I have finally learned that is it wise to take some toiletries and a change of clothes with me in a carry-on bag. I bought a $6 t-shirt at the airport to sleep in and Katie was kind enough to let me borrow some mascara the next morning. Thanks to Katie and that fateful morning, I am now in love with this mascara. Grounding us in Detroit was clearly God’s way of showing me His mascara will.

Then it was Holy Week and Easter. We had a wonderful Palm Sunday, 9pm worship services at Amherst College every night after that, a Passover Seder, a Crosswalk through town, a Good Friday service, and ended the week with an 82 degree Easter Sunday and fun lunch gathering at our house.
Grant is a senior at Amherst College and preached at one of the evening services.
(I’ve just turned off the “live” photo feature on my phone, since it gives me 2 second videos
rather than still photos.)

Friend and church member, Shannon, took photos of anyone who wanted them after each service. They all turned out so great!


Robert led the congregation in a song he wrote especially for Easter. Cindy accompanied on viola. So beautiful.


Coop was home for the long weekend.
More college kids home – friends old and new.


The warm weather meant we could be outside.



Texas, Iran, Massachusetts, Rwanda, Kenya, Mexico, and China – all represented around my table
Such a beautiful sight, a true gift, and a glimpse of heaven.
Some of the frenzy is by my own choosing, but peer pressure plays a part. The following Saturday I ran my first half marathon trail race with Betsy and her friend, Liz. The race was Betsy’s idea (definitely not mine!), and since she moved to Natick last year, I decided to join her as a way to spend some time catching up. This meant that during Holy Week and the week after Easter, I was having to up my running mileage quite a bit to prepare. You know…not much else going on those weeks, so why not? Sigh…
These things always sound like a great idea two months prior.
I’m pretty sure that running on an actual trail would have been highly recommended for training purposes, but the edge of the bike trail is the closest I got to the real thing. There were some rocks and roots, but no mud or hills. Oh well.

The route was a 6+ mile loop…or cloverleaf? It rained the whole day before as well as the last half hour of the race. We were freezing by the time it was over and all had blue lips when we met up at the finish line. I was the last of the three of us to finish at 2 hours 24 minutes – about 30 minutes slower than my last half marathon.

Kayla has been running and jumping a lot herself lately with spring track. She’s been doing the triple jump, the 100m, 200m, the 4×100, and the 4×400.

Several of her fans joined us at a recent meet, and she had fun racing some of her beloved kindergartners, first-graders, and toddlers.

Yep…breaking all of the blogging rules with the length of this, but here are a few more things we’ve done this spring…

A trip to the Boston Opera House with friends to see The King and I. So good!
Betsy’s son (and Pete’s!) Dustin was baptized last Sunday. He had to have a special, early
baptism due to his UMass Ultimate Frisbee team schedule.

After Dustin’s baptism, we hosted a graduate luncheon at our house – about 20 of them were able to join us, but as you can see there are so many more leaving us this year! This pic reflects only those in the second service.




Alena (and Lois) were over on Saturday night and Sunday helping prepare, host, and clean up.


Grant and Parker – we’ll be back in Indianapolis next month for Grant’s wedding!

This week included Kayla’s Challenge III Protocol Night. Along with the Challenge I class, we enjoyed an Italian dinner at a local restaurant and then headed to Amherst College for their Christian A cappella group’s spring concert.


Challenge I (Freshmen) and Challenge III (Juniors) classes together


I took my final exam in Theology III on Wednesday…

…and instead of blogging, I should be reading that top book and writing a 5 page paper on it, because it’s due next Wednesday at midnight, but we’ll be in Texas by then…

…and helping another graduate move out of his house in Waco. I am so happy and so sad all at the same time over this. Happy that he has had such an incredible experience and education at Baylor and sad that he’ll be entering the real world which will no longer include long holiday breaks and summer vacations during which he can come home for extended visits.

He was kind enough to take one last picture for me on his last day of class, and while I know he was
celebrating this day, I was truly grieving!
So…Wednesday we’ll move him out (and I will finally move IN to the Magnolia store and bakery for some shopping rather than stare at a hopelessly long line of Fixer Upper fans – hopefully!?), Thursday we’ll have a party, Friday we’ll head back to Waco, Saturday we’ll graduate, Sunday we’ll do church and lunch with him in Waco, and then say goodbye as he heads to Pine Cove Camp for the summer. He’ll move to Austin in August for his first “real world” job at Oracle.
Cooper won’t be able to join us in Texas for the graduation festivities due to his final exam schedule at Gordon, and this totally ruins my plan to have a family photo for the Christmas card this year. It also signals the end of a season – the full nest season – and it’s affecting me more than I thought it would. I’m so happy that my kiddos are growing and thriving in their individual lives and paths, but so sad that there will be so much less family time.
So…yes – filled by the recent joys and fellowship and experiences and hopes for the future, and fried, too – by the pace and the effort and the emotion of it all. I suppose I wouldn’t have it any other way, but am looking forward to some rest as well as some different adventures this summer. (It will be our 25th wedding anniversary in August!)
Back soon with graduation picks and maybe even some updates around this little space. June will mark 10 years of blogging (and nearly 800 posts) for me, and I’m looking forward to celebrating with a bit of a “fixer upper” of my own.
Happy Spring!


Big Kids Back To School

It’s been so fun seeing all of the back to school photos on Facebook lately.  We used to be able to take back-to-school photos, too. Here’s one from about 5 years ago. Chocolate waffles, bacon, and new school supplies greeted my homeschoolers that day. Always a fun morning and a fresh start.
I’ve only got one left at home to take photos of, and here she is the morning before her first day back to Classical Conversations. Kayla’s a Junior this year…
…but it seems like yesterday that she read her first chapter book all on her own. Ten years.  It’s been ten years since she read Dingoes at Dinnertime all by herself.  Today she’s preparing to lead tomorrow’s Challenge III class in a 45 minute discussion on Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. A lot happens in ten years, and I’m impressed with this young lady’s discipline and diligence.
Here’s Kayla’s course list:
Advanced Mathematics/Pre-Calc
American History
Latin: Caesar & Cicero readings
Spanish II
Philosophy: Consequences of Ideas
Shakespeare & Poetry
Your Facebook photos really made me want to have back-to-school photos of all my kids, so I sent the two away at college a text message begging and pleading them to please send a photo of themselves on their campuses on the first days of school. I may have promised a cookie care package.  Here’s the first one I got:

Kory works in the athletic department at Baylor, and he loves it. His good friend, fellow student, and athletic department colleague, Paul (also a dedicated Gluten Free Krums reader 😉 ), took this photo. (Thank you, Paul!)  He’s sporting his work and game day uniform here, and I know he can hardly wait for football season to begin. He watches the games from the press box, so that might have something to do with it.  

He just told me his schedule on the phone yesterday:
MWF 10am-12pm: Business Law and World History
T/Th 11am-3pm: Project Management, American Literature, and Social Dance (<—Fox Trot was last week!)
Fridays 2:30-5:15: Human Resources, Talent Acquisition & Staffing
He’s a college Senior this year, but I’m pretty sure we took these kindergarten and first grade photos just a few short weeks ago.
Cooper was not as quick to get me his back-to-school photo, so I sent him Kory’s as a challenge reminder.  Cooper thought Kory’s photo was lame: “He doesn’t even have a backpack on!” And then this appeared via text:
Coop started at Gordon College this year. He could have started last year, but decided to take a gap year after graduating high school. He spent about 8 months in Palm Springs, California living with my brother and his family, working maintenance crew and then outdoor service at Rancho La Quinta Golf Club. He dug a lot of trenches, trimmed a lot of hedges and edges, parked a lot of Porches, and made a lot of big tips. I think he was ready to hit the books again after all of that, but it was a good year and great learning experience for him.
Our week of preparation to leave for college began with this purchase…
…because this one wasn’t gonna do the job. (A little bulky for a dorm room, too.) It was great for learning to type and write papers many years ago, though, and Coop is the fastest typist in our family.
Kayla got to help move Coop into his dorm. It’s a triple (three guys) and it’s tiny! It’s redeeming feature is the suite style bathroom – sort of.  Six young men have to share that bathroom. I can tell you that it already smelled like a boys’ dorm by nightfall. Girls live in the dorm, too, but on separate floors. We went to one of those floors. It smelled like flowers. 
Girls’ dorm floors: flowers.  
Boys’ dorm floors: stinky socks. 
Some things never change.

The Lord provided for a lot of really special things to happen throughout the course of the weekend. For one, we ran into these old friends of Cooper’s at the local Target: Isaac and Lauren. We know them from youth camp and the leadership program, Quest. It was such a nice surprise and really fun to catch up with them.

We also met up with another friend of ours. Rachel was a former church member when she was a student at UMass. She saw that Cooper was going to Gordon and sent me a message saying she and her husband live just a few minutes from campus and would love to be of any help to Cooper while he is at Gordon. When I asked her what town they were in, she said Beverly. I messaged her back saying I just happened to be at the Target in Beverly.  She said: “Me too!”  We met up front at the Starbucks for a mini-reunion.  (Target + Starbucks. Was there ever a better duo?) Cooper got to re-meet her and receive more encouragement and lots of offers of help, food, and laundry facilities.
Two more things: We enjoyed meeting Coop’s roommates and their families – one from Austin, TX and one from Nashville, TN. Upon chatting with the Austin, TX mom, I learned that her son, Sam, had been homeschooled through high school. I told her that Cooper had also been homeschooled. Always fun to meet others who have been on that journey, as the kids tend to keep it on the down-low. 
I told Cooper that Sam had been homeschooled, and when Cooper asked him about it, Mikey, the other roommate was in the room.  Mikey overheard their conversation about being homeschooled and then “confessed” to having been homeschooled himself. All three roommates homeschooled their entire lives.  Pretty cool.  (Mikey may have even been wearing his homeschool co-op t-shirt at the time. Ha!)
THEN I check Facebook and noticed that my friend, Sara, from my college days at UT Austin commented on a photo and told me to tell Cooper to be on the lookout for a guy named Sam from Austin, that she and her family are family friends of his and co-small-group leaders at their church. I couldn’t believe it, and could hardly wait to tell her that Sam had already been spotted on campus – in the bed just across the room from Coop! They both play guitar and love basketball. Small world. Good Father. 

Gordon did such a nice job of including parents in the first two days of orientation and then sending us off with a special worship service. It also felt a little mean of them to have us all worship together, drape our kiddos in special Gordon scarves, and then send us out of the chapel to say goodbye for the semester. It made for quite a mix of emotions, but I suppose I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

He was nervous, but also excited to finally do the college thing. There have been lots of texts and calls about book buying, adding and dropping courses, and how the first week of classes went. So far, he has over-studied and been able to answer lots of questions in class. Here’s his schedule:

MWF: History (Mesopotamia, Greece, Rome), Accounting, and New Testament
T/Th: Discovery (or Gordon College 101 for all freshmen and transfers)

He’s planning to major in business and minor in music, so he’ll also take a non-credit classical guitar lesson in order to prepare to audition for the music school. They only have classical music options at Gordon, but Coop is eager for the challenge. (He just released his first single on iTunes! I’ll post information when it is fully available. Super-talented musician, this kid.)

So, no more wooden blocks and Playmobil guys to re-enact the Fall of Constantinople at our house.  It’s all books and computers, calculators and work-studies, group projects and presentations for my crew now. I do miss the old days, but I have to say I’m really enjoying watching these new academic and life adventures they are on. I’ve loved being their teacher, and I love that they’ll still indulge me with back to school photos and stories even though they are such big kids now.

Cookie care packages on the way. 🙂

Gluten Free/Paleo Friday: Kale Avocado Salad (A brunch and providential produce, too)

Happy Friday!

It’s beautiful here today, and as much as I dread the coming cold, it is nice to have a bit of a break from the humidity. Feels like you can breathe again. My fall wreath is now hung on the front door, which usually doesn’t happen until October, and I’m mentally planning a future weekend outing for apple picking.  This yearly tradition always sneaks up on me.

We probably won’t get around to it tomorrow, because Kayla will be off on a field trip to Salem to tour the Custom House (she recently trudged through that prologue to The Scarlet Letter), see the homes of Nathaniel Bowditch AND Nathaniel Hawthorne, follow a walking tour of Salem, visit the Witch House, and possibly end the day walking around historic Rockport.  I’ve been to the House of Seven Gables before, but I’m jealous of all the other things she’ll get to do tomorrow with homeschool friends.

I’m excited, though, for how I’ll be spending my day tomorrow.  It will involve shopping for groceries, cooking, baking, and setting up for a brunch at church on Sunday.  I spent time planning the menu and decor yesterday with some help from Pinterest, and maybe I’ll take pictures and tell you about it next week.  Our church always does a “Back to School” or “Fall” cookout after the 11:15am service on one of the first Sundays of the school year, but the 9:15am service folks always miss out on this event.  This year, Robert wanted the early service people to have their own special lunch ~ or brunch, in this case, so he asked if I’d be willing to take it on.

I actually love doing things like this.  Oh, there’s never really time for it (homeschooling, housekeeping, seminary, small groups, coffee dates…), and I do get tired of cooking (my family wants a meal EVERY SINGLE night!), but I also love creating something special for a church event ~ or houseguests or birthdays, etc. It makes me happy to create a meal and space where people feel comfortable and indulged in something beyond the usual fare.

Okay ~ well, maybe I’ll tell you more next week when it’s all over. For now you could pray that people WILL be blessed by the meals provided on Sunday and delight in the grace of sweet fellowship.  Good weather would be wonderful, too ~ as the later cookout/picnic is always held outside.

Here’s a recipe that I’ve made several times since the spring. It was originally inspired by a salad I get at Whole Foods on occasion and also influenced by one in the Elana’s Pantry cookbook I’ve mentioned before.  It does require a tolerance for kale ~ even raw,  “massaged” kale ~ but it’s a really tasty way to get this super-food into your diet.  I think it’s so strange that the grocery store which is almost literally next door to my house (I’ve walked there at least twice this week) carries kale all the way from Texas.  We are surrounded ~ again, literally ~ by local organic farms that have an abundance of kale.  The farmer’s market is brimming with several different varieties.

The “Go Texan” twist-tie on my Massachusetts kale is interpreted by me as a little “wink” from God, which you may think is reading way too much into a twist-tie, but that’s okay. I don’t mind being thought silly for believing that God is capable of revealing His love for me and my plight of being an alien in a foreign land through my leafy greens.  He has the hairs of my head all numbered, so there’s no doubt He can guide the produce buyer’s hand at Big Y on my behalf. 😉

Here’s the Texas/Massachusetts recipe:

Kale Avocado Salad

1 med. bunch kale, washed, de-veined, torn in small pieces
1 ripe avocado
1/2 – 1 red bell pepper
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp orange juice (fresh or from a carton)
2 tsp honey (Optional ~ the orange juice sweetens it quite a bit!)
salt and pepper to taste

Place washed and torn kale into a medium sized bowl. Pour olive oil and orange juice over the kale and massage it with your clean hands until the kale is thoroughly coated and softened a bit.  Let sit for 10-20 minutes while prepping the rest of the ingredients.

Depending on how much you desire, cut red bell pepper into medium diced pieces. Add to kale mixture and massage a bit more.

Peel and chop the avocado.  Add the pieces to the kale and massage until the chunks of avocado are mashed up and coating all of the salad.  Leaving some of the avocado chunks intact is okay, too!

Add salt, pepper and honey and toss to coat.

Enjoy and have a great weekend!  I’ll be making another version of this salad for the brunch that involves chicken, wild rice, apples, and cranberries.  Can’t wait to try it!

Delicious Words & Tears

Your words were found and I ate them, and your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart; for I have been called by Your name, O Lord God of hosts. 
Jeremiah 15:16
He said to me, “Son of man, feed your stomach and fill your body with this scroll which I am giving you.” Then I ate it, and it was a sweet as honey in my mouth.”
Ezekiel 3:3
Eating God’s Word?  I came across both of these verses in the last year during my read-through-the- Bible endeavor (which has taken me much more than a year!), and they struck me as a powerful image regarding the delicious nourishment of the Bible.  I mentioned the verses to the women of my church on our winter retreat, the theme of which was The Word.  Consume and be well fed by the delicious Word of God.  Nothing is as sweet.  Nothing else can satisfy.  We have food others know not of.
Then, as the Lord seems to always work in themes in my life, I picked up this book recently and unknowingly. I thought a good missionary story would be the perfect way to start the homeschool morning with Kayla this year.

I can’t remember why I even had this book on the shelf, but I think I must have purchased it years ago when I thought it would fit with a world history and geography class we were doing with other local homeschoolers.  We never ended up using it, but I re-discovered it this summer while clearing closets and shelves and making trips to Good Will.

My kids will tell you that I have been dissolved to tears numerous times during “read-aloud” time, (Bronze Bow, anyone? Pilgrim’s Progress? Sigh…) but I really didn’t see it coming this time.

In Search of the Source is about Wycliffe (Bible translators) missionaries in Papua New Guinea. This husband and wife team, along with their small children lived in the jungle among the Folopa people, a tribe with an unwritten language and a previous cannibalistic revenge culture.  The book recounts some of the breakthroughs they had in acquiring the proper translations for certain Bible words, phrases, and stories.  The language acquisition stories and the details of the intimate translation in cooperation with a few of the Folopa men are really fascinating, and the stories of eating jumbo beetles (they “pop” when rolled above the fire flames) and grub worms (stuffed in bamboo and roasted to make a “meat stick”) and going on bat hunts through caves in waist deep water (a river where the dead were once buried) add even more excitement.

They began translation work with Genesis 1 and had difficulty right away with the word “created.”  Then, in Genesis 2, the Folopa men were greatly humbled when they discovered that the women they thought must be a completely different species from them, made only for work and babies, were actually made from their very own flesh.  But is was the translation of Genesis 37-45 that really made a significant impact, as the Hebrew culture of the “favorite son” and the resulting sibling rivalry mirrors their own. They were completely mesmerized by the story.

The missionary wife typed furiously as the translation of the Joseph story was being spoken, and as the words individually appeared on the typewritten page, the men came in closer and closer, watching and reading, refusing to take a break for tea and toast.  When the page was finished, one of the Folopa men took it, put his hand to his throat (a gesture of great seriousness) and said this:

“We are dying of the deliciousness of these words.”

I couldn’t even finish reading that line, because the tears started rolling.  The power and sweetness of God’s Word.  The emotion of reading about another culture’s first response to that beautiful Word.  It was too much to take in.

And the story of Joseph began to not only resonate with their own cultural experience, but also tie in with another story they knew about another Son. The same man who held the typewritten page began to speak again…

” ‘The brother whom they had most greatly offended,’ he said, ‘was in the end the one who had the most power to destroy them.  Yet he passed it over. Instead he became the one who rescued them.’ “

In their revenge culture, this was incredulous, scandalous even, and therefore very powerful. Many had already responded in faith to the message, a message of grace and forgiveness rather than a deserved revenge killing.

So, big tears over written words during read-aloud time again. Nothing new for my homeschool pupils.  I guess the tears are really over the Word who became flesh for me.

He is beautiful. His Word is sweet.

(Jack and Kelly ~ maybe this could be your next read-aloud?)

Weekend, Wedding, Worship, Quiz & Woes

Coop, Curtis, and A Photobombing Friend in Boston

 It was a very late night for a Monday, but it was worth it. Robert had to be in Boston for a North American Mission Board (NAMB) event, an it was one I didn’t want the kids to miss.  Truthfully, I didn’t want to miss it either, and I almost never pass up an opportunity to go into Boston.  We picked up our friend, Kama, and headed east around 3pm yesterday after a stop at Dunkin Donuts to get drinks for the road. I even got a very long shoulder massage as we drove. Ahhhhh….it was wonderful. Thank you, Kama.

We parked, walked through the Common, and along the Freedom Trail a bit until we got to Chipotle for a quick dinner.  The event was at the Tremont Temple, which we had to pass on the way to dinner, so it was an easy walk back.  A very long line awaited us, but it moved quickly and was full of friends from near and far.  The whole event was like a mini-reunion which made it all the more fun.

(A passing Bostonite asked me what the long line was about, but upon hearing that we were waiting to hear a pastor speak at a worship service, he moved on pretty quickly.)

The event was part of a tour for Send North America (SNA) ~ a NAMB effort to exhort believers to share the gospel in their individual lives and vocations, and plant churches in their various cities and towns.  The Passion City Band led worship through music and David Platt led worship through a great teaching and encouragement time from the book of Acts ~ ordinary people doing extraordinary things because of an extraordinary God.

It was great.  I’m so glad we didn’t miss it. I’m so glad my kids got to experience it.  It was especially encouraging to see each of them, without prompting, give of their own money (well, one regretted forgetting theirs in the van, so we helped out) toward the mission.

And I got to see Rachel ~ a recent graduate from UMass who is now involved in a Boston church plant ~ along with many other dear friends.  Such a wonderful surprise.

Going to Boston on a Monday night was also kinda crazy after the weekend we had. Robert accuses me of filling up all “free” time with activities, and that when I suddenly find myself without an obligation, I simply add a new one. Our weekend was packed, and any normal person would not have planned a trip to Boston on Monday (that they weren’t required to take), according to him.  Maybe this is why my kids seem to be entertainment and adrenaline junkies.  If a day or two day passes without anything fun or exciting happening (according to their standards for such), they sink into a sort of depression. In fact, a couple of weeks ago, they were lamenting that if someone were to make a movie about their lives, it would be oh so boring.  I really don’t think they got this from me, and though my husband would probably balk at me saying this, I LONG for boring and uneventful days.  They just never happen, but he seems to think that’s my own fault.
(But it’s David Platt…and the Passion Band…and Boston…and a gathering of Christians…many of whom we know and love…and when will the kids ever have this opportunity again…and it’s so good for them to be a part of in their teen years….and…and…and…)
(Hmmmmm…maybe it is all my fault.)
(We got in bed at 1:30am.)
Anyway, the weekend was crazy. Saturday, I went on a run, caught up on a bit of studying in the morning, had a phone date with a friend from Oklahoma midday, and then had to get ready for the wedding of this cute couple…
The wedding was at 5pm and it was an outdoor ceremony and potluck dinner, which meant preparations needed to start around 1:30pm.  We finally made it out the door at 4pm in our wedding attire, carrying our Thai Chicken Skewers, and began the 45 minute drive.  To make a very long story short, we got very lost, got caught in a severe thunderstorm, arrived at the wedding site at 5:45pm, sat in the truck for 20 minutes (50 yards from the ceremony) waiting for the thunder, lightning, and heavy rain to stop, almost decided to just drive home, finally decided to venture out, heard the minister say “I now pronounce you…” as we approached the tent, jumped out of our skin at the thunderclap that immediately followed, deposited our food on the buffet table, and found a seat under the tent held up by huge metal (lightning) rods. It’s a wonder anyone survived this treacherous evening.
Not only did we survive, but we had a great time seeing friends from all over Massachusetts (lots of worlds collided at this wedding), and thoroughly enjoyed seeing Tommy and Kaitlyn in their first moments together as a married couple.  The best part of the whole thing was the groom’s speech (“rebuttal” to the toasts) in which he gave all honor to Christ, and shared the gospel with everyone there.
Once home, the thunderstorms had reached our own town.  Robert still needed to practice/preach through his sermon, I had much more studying to do, and the next morning would be the Sunday which is always the “biggest” day of our year with the return of students to the area.

It was a great morning of meeting tons of new people, singing, and hearing the gospel proclaimed from the first chapter of Jonah ~ the new sermons series of the semester.

We had a houseful of people over afterward for lunch, which morphed into meetings for upcoming small groups, which morphed into the making of videos to promote the men’s and women’s small groups.  Molly and I made our debut here as future reporters on all things discipleship. We were both horrified at the idea, but managed to pull this off in about 10 minutes. (We couldn’t be outdone by the men’s group.) Retakes were done when certain teenagers decided to run in a circle around behind us. 
By the time the last person left the house on Sunday afternoon, we were already an hour and a half late to the next event ~ a birthday/memorial party for our friend, Josh, who would have turned 33 that day.  We miss him and it was nice to see others that do, too.
Robert dropped me off at home and was back up at the church for a 7pm meeting/sermon debrief, and I finished cleaning up the leftover dishes from lunch. It was 9:30 before I finished all the tasks that needed to be taken care of at home, but I tried to read a bit more in preparation for my quiz which had to be taken before 12 noon yesterday.  I had to get up very early to finish reading and studying, since we also needed to get an early start with homeschool work that morning in order to make the Boston trip.
It was Quiz #3.  Quizzes #1 and #2 both had problems, so everyone was given a 90%. This one happened to be over general or natural revelation (God’s creation) versus specific revelation (God’s Word), and the various views on natural revelation throughout church history. It was really interesting, and the Lord helped me to make 100% on the quiz. I could hardly believe it. Nine more quizzes to go and they are 25% of my final grade.
And now I’m blogging instead of studying, and it’s Tuesday, and I’m tired, and the Monday at noon deadline is already coming too quickly, and I haven’t purchased any groceries for the week. I have had an near emotional breakdown this morning, however, over an outline of the U.S. Constitution, and proper bibliography form for research papers that were due today for one child.
Oh, and I also shattered the platter upon which I was inverting a recently baked (7am grocery store trip/8am in the oven) cake for one of Kayla’s friend’s birthday’s today, which also rendered the beautiful, chocolate, gluten free ($$) cake inedible, because we didn’t want to lacerate anyone’s throat with sharp ceramic chards.  This meant another trip to the grocery store for a store-bought cake and all of the accompaniments.
So, I have accomplished some things today, just not in the direction of anything very productive.  So, now I just want to sit in my room and cry. (I was kind of attached to that platter.  Used it constantly.)
Maybe that 1:30am bedtime wasn’t such a good idea after all…
(It really was, but I’m going to need a day of recovery, I think. And maybe another massage.)

Full Days and Brain Breaks

A trampoline brain break
The days are so full.  Yesterday, I went for a morning run, shopped for the week’s groceries, put them all away, emptied and re-filled the dishwasher, started preparing lunch, took a shower, read a couple of chapters from a missionary novel (Papau New Guinea Folopas) and a few chapters on American history (Columbus, Pizarro, de Leon) with Kayla, soaked some beans for a future meal, returned some emails, scheduled a FedEx pick-up, put some appointments on the calendar, read the Bible and journaled, all before 11am.  
At 11am two of Kayla’s closest friends came over to work on their schoolwork together.  While they got started, I finished cooking lunch and gave Cooper the haircut he’d been requesting for days. (Robert was in line for a haircut, too, but then he opted for SuperCuts the day before, which is only a short walk from our house. I did not discourage this plan.) Then I sat down with two of the girls and tried to help them prepare for their upcoming debate on the death penalty.  We multi-tasked by watching a debate video while eating. After they started making good progress, it was time to sit with Kayla and work on her grammar lesson.  She’s begging for spelling, too, but I can not remember to whom I loaned (or gave?) my Spelling Power book.
The girls had a LOT to accomplish.  Cooper had a LOT to accomplish.  And I still had a LOT to accomplish.  I know it’s not necessarily in vogue or in line with the latest principles for time management or Stephen Covey’s “seven habits,” but for now I live and die by the checklist.  Actually, there is a new book out called The Checklist Manifesto.  We learned about it while helping Cooper through an SAT prep program.  Robert immediately downloaded it to his Kindle, read the entire thing, and now we have posted checklists (by Robert) in the bathroom for proper procedures for showering/leaving the bathroom in order, in the kitchen for washing dishes/wiping counters/loading/unloading the dishwasher, and on the back door for all the things that need to be done before leaving the house. Would you believe that they are actually quite effective ~ for the most part? So, maybe I am up with the trends after all?
I heartily encouraged some jumping, because they had been so focused
and hard at work for hours!

 This morning I went on my weekly 6am-ish run with Betsy, was home by 7:30, had a cup of tea and read my Bible ~ all the while thinking I had no outside obligations until 11:30am when I was to meet with a student for coffee.  Then I sat down with Kayla to do more reading for school, and about 15 minutes in the phone rang.  It was our dentist calling to tell me I had missed Kayla’s 9:15am appointment.  I wrote it on the calendar, and I even made note of it last night before bed, but it never made today’s checklist which only included a morning run, school, a coffee date, a gift-buying errand, and a meal delivery to a church family who just had a new baby.  Fortunately, the dentist had an opening at 11am, which then affected my coffee date, but that ended up needing to be postponed as well.

I did get several pages of my theology book read while in the waiting room though, which is great, because “seminary reading” is always making the checklist, but not always getting checked off.  And I’m learning that reading at 9pm while propped up in bed isn’t the best scenario for studying.

Last night I got in bed to read (denial), but then received a phone call from my sister which was wonderful, but required an hour and a half to catch up on all the necessary things. At 11:15pm, I slid into bed next to a sleeping husband, who had been out of town at meetings all day.  He woke up a few seconds later and said, “Let’s’ go on vacation.”  We both laughed.

No vacation in sight, but I think a trampoline brain break is definitely in order.  Or even better ~ a dinner-and-movie-out break.

We’ll put that on the checklist along with WAY overdue homeschool reports and proposals, college and job applications for Cooper, a wedding on Saturday, a fall kick-off with returning students this Sunday, the beginning of small groups, etc.

While we were running this morning, Betsy told me all that she was learning from this verse:

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, of I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.
Matthew 11:28-29

It was so nice to be reminded that the wearisome burden of sin has been lifted by Jesus, and that we can even give Him our daily yoke of duty, finding rest, maybe not necessarily for our physical bodies, but certainly for our souls.

Praying for grace to cast my daily checklist onto Him.  I know it’s good to busy for His sake and purposes, but it’s bad to be busy in my own strength for my own purposes. Trying to learn the difference!

Back to School 14.0 (And Back From Texas, Too)

Starting our 14th year of homeschooling today. I can hardly believe my baby girl is in high school this year.  Wasn’t she just beginning kindergarten?  Wasn’t she just 3 years old and taking ballet class and afternoon naps and losing teeth?
And completing her first “chapter book” ever?  Oh, those were such milestones and proud moments! But today she begins algebra I (she actually started this summer), and American Literature (The Scarlet Letter is first up!), and Spanish I and philosophy and economics and more.  She’s taking a break from CC this year, but will likely return in the coming years.  I just felt that God was leading us to be at home together this year doing our own thing, and am praying that He uses the year to pour into her an abundance of grace, confidence, strength, and wisdom. (Not that she doesn’t already posses these things!)
And Mr. Cooper is a SENIOR!  Here is is with his monstrosity of an American History textbook. He began the Challenge III level of Classical Conversations last week and has been hitting the books for hours on end ever since. Shakespeare, poetry, philosophy, pre-calculus, chemistry, and Spanish are all on agenda for this year ~ and LOTS of rhetorical assignments like debate, speech, memorizing lines of Shakespeare, etc.
But it seems like yesterday that he was just learning to type on a very old desktop computer. He’s still the fastest typist in this family for sure! 
The cuteness.  Oh my.
I’m hitting the books this year, too.  My first seminary course began last week, and I really enjoyed the lectures and readings.  Fascinating stuff ~ philosophy, philosophers, the nature of reality, arguments for the existence of God, existentialism, noumena, phenomena, Tertullian, Athanasius, Luther, Calvin, Barth.  I’m overwhelmed by the amount of information, but I love learning it ~ I think.  My first quiz grade has me a bit discouraged, but this is a new week, and I’m hoping to get the hang of things soon. Prayers are appreciated.

Thankfully, my class did not begin until last Monday, which meant I had plenty of time to travel to Texas with Kory and take care of all sorts of things there along with him and my dad.

First on the agenda was buying a car.  Kory was blessed by a gift from his grandparents that enabled this purchase, and we are so thankful. (Thanks Grammie and Paw-Paw!) It was probably the easiest, smoothest transaction in car-buying history! I put out a plea on Facebook, a friend from high school, who happens to live near my dad, responded (Thank you, Lee Ellen!), we took it for a test drive the day after arriving in Texas, everyone had the correct paperwork, they signed over the title, Kory wrote a painful check that was well within our budget, and we drove away. Initially, I did the driving, since it is a manual transmission, but Kory practiced over the next two days and took to it like a pro.

I feared the transaction at the county tax office the next day would be stressful with long waits and trips to various offices, but it wasn’t.  We waited about 3 minutes, and walked out with Texas plates and registration in under 20 minutes.  Amazing. (Acquiring insurance was done over the phone at 9pm ~ inexpensive and unbelievably simple. Wow.)

It was so wonderful that all of this happened so smoothly, because it was Friday, and Kory needed to be at school on Sunday afternoon to begin his week of training for LEAD mentoring.  EVERYTHING had to happen by Friday, and it did!  This also meant that Saturday could be spent washing, vacuuming, Windexing, and Armour All-ing the car.  It cleaned up beautifully! (Have I told you how much I adore washing cars, vacuuming cars, and Windexing and Armour-All-ing cars?  Heaven!)

 Friday afternoon and evening were spent in Austin at the Domain, which is sort of an up-scale outdoor shopping mall.  After spending two hours in the Apple store watching/helping my dad purchase a new iPad (Kory went to the movie with a Baylor friend) and case, and SD card attachment, and wireless printer (whew!), we enjoyed some iced tea and GF carrot cake cupcake from the Steeping Room (yum!) and outdoor seating for the high-fashion show that this mall tends to naturally provide.  We were definitely underdressed.

 And then it was dinner out at Chez Zee with my sister and her family.  Fun times catching up, and frozen yogurt afterwards, of course! Speaking of growing up too fast, my nieces and nephews are all in high school now, and I thoroughly enjoyed hearing about their interests and classes ~ cross country and color guard flag team for the girls, and history and film for my nephew.  They are an awesome and talented bunch. (P.S. DON’T go and see “The Conjuring,” okay?  Take it from the experts here. I stay FAR away from stuff like that, but I’m passing along this PSA from three teens who KNOW.)

 Sunday morning had us leaving for Waco, TX and Kory’s return to Baylor.  My dad helped us gather up his things which had been in storage in his very hot attic. It’s a good thing that Kory got a car, because my dad down-sized from a Suburban to a Foreruner and it would not hold all of Kory’s Rubbermaid containers.

He’s in a single this year and loving having the room to himself.  I think he needs curtains.  What do you think? Only kidding.  Pretty sure he’s not concerned about window treatments, though I have to say, he has his own ideas about design and room decorating. He’s especially excited about his new futon.  Living the life…

 One BIG trip to Target during one HUGE thunderstorm (thankful we were safe inside!), and he was all settled in, and it was time to say goodbye.  I suppose it was slightly easier this time, especially knowing what good hands he’s in and how much he adores his school, leadership program (he’s a mentor this year), friends, classes, and professors. I’ve probably said it a zillion times, but Baylor is truly a special place.  Kory even had a much-anticipated meeting last week with Baylor’s Athletic Director, Ian McCaw, who happens to be a friend of ours from Amherst years ago.  Kory has been on Cloud Nine ever since.  He just soaked up the wisdom and example of godly leadership that Ian possesses.  We could not be more grateful for that life-changing influence in Kory’s life. They both love the topic of “leadership”  ~ godly leadership especially ~ and had such a meaningful conversation about it.  I’m pretty sure Kory even asked him why he went after Art Briles to coach football. I would have loved to be a fly on the wall for all of that.

(Send your kids there!  You won’t be disappointed! REALLY.)

(Okay, I’ll stop.)

Allen Hall Year Two

 The best part of the ride home was meeting this sweet lady for dinner.  (My dad had to endure our speed-talking about kids, and church, and homeschooling, and private schooling, and more.) It was spur of the moment and scheduled around our late departure from Baylor, a river rafting trip for her family, and CC preparations for her, but we made it work.  Yvette and I have been friends since college, and it has been such a joy to stay in touch through the years and watch each other’s kids grow up.  She is an amazing mom and a gifted teacher.  I wish we lived closer, but for now we’ll grab whatever moments we can.

 Back in San Marcos, I was able to get started on my seminary course with the luxury of sitting in bed in a room by myself, listening to lectures, and reading, and taking notes for hours.  If only that were real life…

Oh, and we also made a lot of progress on a painting project.

 I talked my dad into getting started on painting his deck table, which is something he’s been wanting done for at least three years.  He has many, many projects on his list, but this was one I could actually help with (well, this and setting up the wireless printer), so we dove in.

We hauled the heavy furniture out to the driveway, and started scrubbing each piece with a steel brush.  We followed that up with steel wool.  Next came washing with soap and water, rinsing, and leaving out to dry overnight. Although, in south Texas, it only takes a few minutes for a soaking wet towel to dry ( I know this because we also went swimming), so the table probably dried as soon as we finished, but we couldn’t tell, because it was dark by that time.

 The next day, we started painting, and by the time I left last Wednesday, the table and two of the four chairs had their first coat of paint.  It was so satisfying to make so much progress, and my dad was super-motivated to finish it up himself.

Well, that’s the long update.  Now, I’m WAY overdue to be off the computer and setting up Kayla’s Spanish CD-Rom curriculum as well as her online stock market game. After that, it’s over to the dance studio to register her for Hip-Hop class.
Don’t even ask me if I’ve watched today’s theology lecture.
Happy Back-to School!

Growing and GOING: Right Before My Eyes

As I write this, I’m imagining a delirious Cooper getting off an airplane after nearly 24 hours of total travel time ~ and all without an iPod, which is definitely some sort of world record.  I woke up this morning praying that he would be energized and strengthened, not missing any detail of the incredible adventure he is on for the next week. I really could not be more more excited for him.
And Tuesday, the day he left to meet up with his Quest 15 team, I couldn’t have been more proud of him. The days leading up to Tuesday were full, as usual.  We’re always scrambling to get ready for our Classical Conversations days, and this week those days were full of the extra tasks required prior to making your first international trip. Cooper had to complete a long biology module, write a short screenplay for a scene out of Alice in Wonderland ~ after reading ALL of Alice in Wonderland.  He had to write an essay on the classical period of music history, complete several algebra II lessons, 8 Spanish lessons, and to top it all off, be ready to compete in a public policy debate on climate change.
Oh ~ and pack, shop for travel necessities, make copies of his passport, and have it ALL ready to go at 7am on Tuesday morning BEFORE his big day of classes.
I was doubtful about the confidence with which he kept telling me, “I’ve got this, Mom.”
But you know what?  He did “have it.”  He had it all done.  ALL. OF. IT. And he didn’t miss a beat.
When I got home that day and tallied up the debate scores, I read the comments about his hands in his pockets, and his casual approach, and I realized that his judges couldn’t see all that I saw ~ a young man who is maturing rapidly and right before my eyes, and who has never been as confident and diligent and responsible as right. there. before. our. eyes. Never before had I seen him so prepared ~ all notes and quotes typed on a grid for easy access, tucked purposely into opposite pockets of a specially chosen folder ~ and ALL of his own doing. Oh, I checked in on his progress throughout the week, and kept getting the same semi-irritated, “Mom, I’ve got this.” He truly did all of his homework, and all of his research, and all of his organization all by himself and according to his own careful plan.
He also got feedback on the score sheets regarding his casual outfit which was certainly not as formal as the opposing team, it’s true.  But what I saw was a formal, logical, confident, compelling argument and presentation that stayed closer to the actual resolution than the other team. That other team ended up being the winner by about a point. A coat and tie may have pushed the technical win in his favor, but in my book it was a definite win for this middle son of mine who was leaving for a journey to South Africa in less than two hours and has always had difficulty managing his time and being diligent to do excellent work.
Did I mention that he (and therefore, I) had to dissect a large perch before the debate started? Yes, that, too.
It was a very proud mama moment.
And I don’t blame the judges for their discerning feedback at all.  If anything, it helped me to rejoice in my own ability to see the incredible growth and developing character in my boy.  This has not always been the case, and Cooper would be the first to confirm it, unfortunately.
Getting Cross-Examined by Noah
Oh, that I could have the mind and eyes and heart of Christ with my own children ~ careful with my words, much, much slower in my anger, and more generous with grace.
Quest is a leadership development experience for high school juniors through our regional denominational youth ministry and fearless leader ~ Allyson Clark.  It entails nearly a year of Bible study, mentorship, and training, and culminates in a mission trip to one of three locations.  Some of you know that Kory already participated in this program and traveled to a major metropolitan city located in the 10/40 window two years ago.  Well, Cooper’s trip is to Durban, South Africa.
Here are photos of the three mission teams ~  and teens/chaperones in the Quest program:
Top: Dominican Republic team.  Middle: “The City” team. Bottom: South Africa team!

I just Googled “distance from Boston to Durban,” and discovered this:

That’s a LONG WAY.

Cooper worked on this study every night before bed as part of his Quest requirements.
No prompting from Mom and Dad.
While there, Coop will have all sorts of stretching experiences.  He will share his testimony and Bible stories in public schools, which he has been practicing throughout the year with his team.  He will visit an AIDS trust and hospice, learning about the epidemic, and ministering among those suffering. He will play basketball in an outreach to school kids, give away a pair of his own precious high-tops, and share his faith there, too. He will visit rural areas, metropolitan areas, and last, but not least swim in the Indian ocean!
Can you see Durban?  It’s in the purple section, right on the coast.

Cooper and all of the Quest participants were required to earn $500 of their own trip expenses.  (Total cost: $2200) Only after that could they reach out to their churches, families, friends, and community for support.  This was THE most challenging part for Cooper ~ working hard for all that cash, and then handing it over, not spending a dime on himself.  God blessed him so abundantly, though, through the families of our church hiring him for all sorts of jobs.  He really didn’t think it was possible, but the Lord showed him otherwise!

The Official Quest backpack is most definitely a badge of honor!

And here’s an Instagram video that Cooper made and posted to thank those who are supporting him financially and prayerfully.  I love it!

My goodness. I’ve been in tears off and on all throughout the writing of this.  It is so wonderfully difficult to be a parent.  I’m not sure who is benefiting from Quest more ~ my children or me. So grateful for the experience of watching children grow and for being reminded continually that though I and they don’t usually “got this,” God does.
Nothing but pure grace that allows for these continual, patient, and loving reminders.

Hello, Snow Days. (And School Days, Sadly.)

Today is a snow day for our entire state. Even the local college campuses are not having classes or meetings.  We’ve gotten over 6 inches so far, and it is still coming down in abundance.  Even though a snow day for a homeschooler is not quite as exciting, it still feels different and special. Here is my writer-in-residence, working on her newest short story.  It’s actually an assignment for her Challenge B class, and she’s decided to go “vintage” and write the whole rough draft by real typewriter.  She also begged her Daddy to start a fire for her. Perfect writing conditions, I’d say. She has a cup of coffee nearby, too, of course.
A winter wonderland view from my upstairs window

Robert and I did brave the storm to go to Planet Fitness this morning. I don’t like what missing my run and workout does to my mental health and emotions, so he turned on the 4 wheel drive and we forged the 1.5 miles to the gym. Feeling happy and motivated now!

 Coop is hard at work, too.  He has to prepare for a big debate on climate change coming up on Tuesday, read Alice In Wonderland and create a short script for a chosen scene from the book, not to mention lots of Algebra II, Spanish, and biology. This is his preferred study spot.

Added to this load of homework is the packing and preparation involved with traveling to South Africa next Wednesday!  That’s right.  He’ll have a very full day of school including a formal debate, and will leave straight away for Northborough, MA, where he’ll meet up with his team, spend the night, and leave Wednesday morning from Boston for the VERY LONG flights to Durban. I couldn’t be more excited for him, and am praying that his life will be changed forever by the things he sees and the experiences he has serving and traveling.

 I just barely survived our crayfish dissection yesterday.  Ours is the warmest room in the building, which, normally, is a wonderful amenity, but not yesterday.  The smell was almost more than I could handle. Warm, dead, preserved crustaceans. Oh my.

This dissection team left their poor crayfish completely mutilated.
Their tray looked like a monstrous murder scene when they got done,
 but they did identify all pertinent parts and organs.

During music history seminar, Noah and Cooper played “Here Comes The Sun.”  It was quite a jump forward in musical eras from the Franz Liszt piece Jesse played last week, but so wonderful to see each student use their gifts for the benefit of others.  And those socks. Wow.  He helped me pick out some socks to put in Kory’s stocking at Christmastime and then picked those for his own stocking.  Not many people can pull this type of fashion (or non-fashion?) off, but Coop most certainly can.  
That’s Coop and Kayla in the top left and bottom right boxes.
So hard to tell everyone apart with all their gear on!

Monday was another snow day of sorts ~ our weekly trip to Vermont’s Mt. Snow for morning lessons and afternoon free skiing.  It didn’t snow on us much while we were there, but there was fresh snow from previous storms and it made everything so beautiful. The group I was chaperoning happened to have the best ski instructor we’ve had yet.  His detailed instructions about center of gravity and where to lean and shift weight were so helpful to me!  (Lean forward. Heavy foot, Light foot. Turn Shoulders. Rotate Ankles…wow!) I’ve skied quite a bit without much difficulty, but his expert wisdom made things even easier and more fun.

Cooper used Kory’s short skis (a.k.a. trick skis) for the first time this week, and could not wait to ski down Carinthia ~ which is nothing but jumps and rails.  I was a bit nervous about this knowing his feelings of invincibility.  Not long after he took off to that run, I saw the ski patrol pass by with stretcher attached heading straight to Carinthia.  I just knew it was for him, partly because he had a pretty nasty wipe out a few weeks before.  I texted him, called him. No answer. Ugh.

Thoughts of having to find the nearest Vermont hospital flashed through my mind. Visions of having to cancel his South Africa mission trip, and worse, plan a funeral (motherhood does this…) were causing me much anxiety until another mom told me she had just seen him intact and happily heading back up the lift.  Kayla reported later that he wasn’t doing anything crazy, and Cooper himself told me that his fall from the time before caused him to be extra cautious. Natural consequences can have amazing effects, and I was grateful!

Now, I’m off to do some homework myself ~ getting dinner in the oven and outlining a few talks that I need to give at upcoming retreats. I’m really excited about both, but nervous, too, as the chosen topics can be kind of sensitive and controversial.  More on that later, maybe.  Praying that I’ll only write what the Lord leads and gives ~ that my words will be His alone.