Welcome to Egypt

You might remember a few weeks ago I mentioned that Claire woke up with a fever and she missed out on a special day at school. Second grade studies ancient Egypt and the study culminates in a huge feast where the kids dress in costume and do some crafts and enjoy Egyptian food. Needless to say Claire was devastated to miss it.

This is where 3rd grade teacher extraordinaire, Mrs. Phillips, saved the day. She offered to come to our house and celebrate Egyptian Day with Claire. It was so much fun! Mrs. Phillips even came in costume! It is not a day Claire is likely to forget.

She loaned me the stuff the school has on hand so I could set our feast table.


There were books to look at and discuss as well as games to be played.

Mrs. Phillips helped Claire make a cartouche by carving her name into clay using hieroglyphics.

Claire’s favorite was making her face mask. She’ll join the other kids in painting and decorating it at school.

They also did basket weaving. Long thin reeds are soaked in water and woven together.

Back at our feast table we enjoyed Egyptian stew, cucumbers and yogurt, raisin, grapes with honey, honey carrots, and pita bread with humus.

All in all it was a wonderful morning and we couldn’t be more thankful for someone like Mrs. Phillips! She went above and beyond and helped give Claire an Egyptian Day like no other!
Thank you, Mrs. Phillips! We love you and can’t wait for Claire to be in your class next year learning all about the Greeks!


We’re Back In School!

While most kids have already been back in school for a week or so now we just went back yesterday.

For orientation and that only lasts for three hours. 
And now we have a long weekend and don’t go back until Tuesday.
Have I mentioned how much I love our school?
It was fun to see all of our friends that we’ve missed over summer break and meet new teachers and catch up with the ones that are more like extended family than anything else.
I took the annual first day of school picture but I won’t share it with you because Sam is…well, almost a blur he was so excited.
So excited that he was up at 4:15. He managed to stay in his bed until 5:30 when I let him go ahead and take a shower. 
And loud! The boy is so loud. And for some reason right now he is constantly doing his version of the seagull singing in The Little Mermaid. Loudly.
He has also fully entered the logic stage of the trivium and how that looks with an autistic teenage boy is hilarious and gross.
How ridiculous is it that I will not show you a blurry picture but will post one of our dirty white board? I clearly have issues. But in my defense, it wasn’t a full day of actual class so technically their real first day is on Tuesday. That’s my story and I am sticking to it!
It was weird getting the kids ready without Sarah but she slept in. Or tried to with a pillow over her head to block out the horrible but spot on imitation of Buddy Hackett that Sam was performing in his room. He will have an interesting year of Greek mythology and some Shakespeare, Homer, Lewis and Bunyan to name a few.
The girls all had a wonderful day and are all set to enjoy the upcoming year. Claire (2nd grade) will be reading, among other things, Little House on the Prairie and that means having fun on Prairie Day. Abby (6th grade) will be studying American History from 1815 to present day. She’ll go on a cotton picking field trip and rustle up a heehawwing good time on Cowboy Day.  Emily (9th grade) will be reading Shelley’s Frankenstein and  Rousseau’s Social Contract along with work by Austen, Twain, and Hawthorne.
I will miss the kids a bunch but I am looking forward to a little more structure and routine. I think we all do better with that in our lives, don’t you?

Pinterest Test Kitchen # 65 ~ An Apple A Day

Right now is the beginning of my favorite time of year. Like the very first threads of light dawning across the sky herald a new day, the kids getting ready to go back to school announce the coming of Autumn. 

I start to feel a sense of anticipation and I can almost feel a crispness in the air. I day dream about opening my windows and seeing the leaves start changing colors. I love the feel of fall…the smells and colors. Just love it.
Of course this also means that we are smack in the middle of getting ready to start school. I love the school my kids attend but I sure will miss having them home with me. It’s still a little new to me not having kids home during the day. When Sam started last year after being homeschooled the longest it was the first time in eighteen years I didn’t a child with me.  With my sudden childless state last year I found myself being a little indiscriminate with my time, and coupled with Sarah being a senior, found myself a little over extended. This year I am committed to being more productive and purposeful with my time. I’d rather do less and do it well than do a lot and feel utterly frazzled so that it all suffers.
One thing I want to do this year is be more intentional in showing my appreciation and care for the teachers of our school as a whole, and of course my kid’s teachers specifically. To that end I found a nifty little welcome back treat on pinterest to make as they began their teacher training.
welcome back teacher gifts
These little guys weren’t hard to make…just labor intensive and a little pricey if you are making a bunch. Thankfully, a friend and I did it together to offset the cost. I used a variety of apples since my grocery store didn’t have enough granny smiths.  
I don’t have a recipe per se for these but they are pretty self explanatory.  I tried a few different recipes for homemade caramel sauce before I just settled in unwrapping several bags of Kraft’s caramels and melted them with some heavy whipping cream. (You can find the recipe here.)
However because I love food photography and the light in my kitchen is fabulous I do have lots of pictures 🙂
caramels, candy, homemade caramel sauce
homemade kraft caramel sauce
We used the cute little four ounce canning jars…just the right amount for generous single servings. And may I just say that I think raffia ribbon is a pseudonym for hair of the devil? It sure adds a nice touch but man is it a pain to work with!
They bagged up nice though and I was pleased with how they looked. This would make a great back to school gift your child’s teacher or even the whole class.
apples with caramel dipping sauce
Whether or not you make this or something else, I hope you take the time this year to let your child’s teacher know how much you appreciate them and the work they do.

The End of One Thing…The Beginning of Another

A week ago Thursday night we celebrated our first graduation. I wasn’t as weepy as I expected, although let me be clear that in the week leading up to that night Sarah’s entire life passed through my mind at some point or other. And the tears flowed freely during those times.

And to also be clear, they were present at the graduation too. When we were singing the school song, Be Thou My Vision, and I could see her tears as the reality of what was happening hit her, they fell. And there was this moment that even now makes my breath hitch.

When Sarah was little I taught at a Montessori day school. When she turned three she came to my class and to help with the transition if I was leading circle time we would flash each other the I love you sign. During the graduation ceremony we managed to make eye contact and without thinking that hand sign flashed. And oh, the tears fell.

It was a happy time and it is good and right because she is ready to move on to the next phase of growing up. She is well prepared for whatever that is and will do well thanks in part to the community and life at Trinitas.

We were blessed to have family and so many friends come watch and celebrate with us.  There were a lot of hugs and smiles and more than a few photo bombs.

For now she has started working as a nanny for some dear friends of ours and will be doing a lot of reading with her father in the next few months and spend some time learning and developing a love for some life skills (read she is going to learn how to cook and budget and all manner of household things 😉

Pretty proud of her.

A Glimpse of Washington, DC

Oh, it was lovely! And it wasn’t even cherry blossom season…I can only imagine that gorgeousness.

My experience with big cities is pretty limited so I was expecting a city laid out like LA or NY. So not the case. And it may have just been the time of year we were there but not real crowded. (Except at the Lincoln Memorial. Lots of people there.)

The museums. The architecture. Let me tell you those people love their marble and columns!

The weather was perfect. One day was even nice enough that we walked the Mall and didn’t even have to wear jackets. But it did start snowing on our last night there. My experience with snow is just about the same as my experience with big cities but it was beautiful and everything I could have pictured it to be.

Oh, and the memorials! Again with the marble and columns and good gracious the stairs! But so worth seeing. Jefferson was my favorite I think. I was surprised by how emotional the Vietnam Memorial was. And the Korean War Memorial was pretty amazing too.

Altogether it was more than I expected…more than can be seen in one trip and I want to go back one day. And maybe, just maybe, during cherry blossom season.

We walked in the snow our last night to see the White House.

White House in the Evening

All of the buildings are simply beautiful. And HUGE.

The Capitol Building was pretty impressive as well. And big. And lots of security. I understand the need for it and I’m not complaining at all but man, did I feel like I kept dressing and undressing all day long! I’m sure that has got to be one of the most boring jobs in the world but at different places the guards could be chatty and pretty informative.

The Capitol Building Washington DC

One day we walked aver 13 miles. It’s such a pretty place with so  much interesting stuff to see that I didn’t mind at all. My feet minded at the end of the day though. Because of the snow on our last day a lot of places were shut down and we ended up spending a lot of time at the shopping mall. I treated myself to a pedicure 🙂

Street Scene Washington DC black and white

It’s so quiet and hushed at the war memorials. The weight of freedom and the lives lost to secure it lands heavy. The reality of just how many people died and how many lives have been affected is staggering.

Vet War Memorial

Finding a name on the Vietnam Memorial

I was surprised by just how massive the Lincoln Memorial is. And I mean massive.
Lincoln Memorial
Washington Memorial and the Moon

Yep, the Jefferson was definitely my favorite.

Jefferson Memorial in Winter

I think he had reason to tremble. And I think we all should still tremble.
Jefferson Monument and Quote

My goodness, what can you say about the Library of Congress? Except please can I go back? It is just stunning. The artistry and scope has to be seen to be believed and even then it’s hard to grasp.

Library of Congress Details

The art galleries are fantastic. We spent several hours in the National Art Gallery on the first day and towards the end I felt like the person who sat at the holiday feast table and ate so much that by the end of the meal they could no longer taste anything. My mind just went on overload.
National Gallery of Art Collage

I loved seeing artist set up in front of some great work trying to capture their own masterpiece. The attention to detail in these artworks is so incredible.

I know even less about modern art than I do about big cities and snow except that I don’t care for it at all. We went to one modern art gallery and I found it to be oppressive. The “art” seems destructive and hopeless and I would much rather wander around looking at collections of works crafted hundreds of years ago that I’ve already seen than go there again.

The trip was amazing and I’m happy to have shared the experience with Sarah. It’s not often that we get that kind of one on one time together and life is changing pretty quickly around here as she prepares graduate. I’ve heard people talk about what a terrible time it is to have the child adult in their home but I have to say all things considered it’s pretty awesome in our house.

God is gracious and kind.

Sam’s World ~ An Evening of Theater and Recitation

Sam loves school.

He loves his class mates and knows just about all the students in the school.

He loves his teachers. (Although he wouldn’t say that ~ too romantic, you know!)

He doesn’t give us any trouble about homework and seems quite happy to do it.

Recently, the school held one of its annual events, An Evening of Theater and Recitation. Every class memorizes and performs some piece of literature. This year was the best ever as they all choose very well known classics and delivered them with skill and humor.

We weren’t really sure how Sam was going to do for several reasons. One, he has a tendency to mumble and smash all his words together into a barely coherent  blather of sound when asked to read aloud. Two, we didn’t know how he would handle being in from of a crowd. And, third, how well he would do following all the directions and controlling his body on stage.

Turns out we had no need to worry at all but he kept us guessing right up to the moment he got on stage. At home he was reluctant to practice his lines for us. And if he messed up he would make this horrible garbled sound pretending to rewind his words. Needless to say the words, “You can’t do that on stage!” came out quite a bit. But he didn’t make any mistakes, he spoke clearly and was easily understood.

Oh, I wish you could have seen him! He stood so tall and proud with his class and practically vibrated with excitement. His eyes sparkled and his smile was HUGE! Because I was photographing the event he saw me on the front row and winked at me several times.

He stepped forward to deliver his lines and the stepped back, glancing at his neighbor as if to say, “I did it right, didn’t I? Did you see me?!” Thrilled with his delivery and the success of the performance he gave a nice little fist pump as they all walked off stage. I missed that though. My eyes were a little blurry because I teared up at the sheer joy that showed on his face the whole time.

Afterwards, many people told us how much they enjoyed seeing his anticipation and excitement. Many people congratulated him and it fueled his idea that he is now famous. He sat back in one of the seats and slung both arms across the back of them and pronounced himself very satisfied.

As we celebrated with McFlurries on the way home he asked Rob, “It was the best day ever, Dad?”

“It sure was, Buddy.”

I know this is a Sam’s World post but I just have to let you know the girls did a fabulous job too.

Sam’s World ~ This Is So Weird

So, we now have our first week of school under our belt.

It was…weird.

For me.

Sam is doing fine. Great. Loves it and is settling into the rhythm of the new dance without missing a beat so far.

Me? I’m a little weirded out dropping everyone off at the school each morning. Coming home to an empty house. A quiet house. Yeah, that’s the really weird part ~ it’s so quiet.

And time. I have time. To do stuff. Lots of stuff. And guess what? Laundry is easy to keep up when you have this kind of alone quiet time in an empty house. Who knew?

Mind you the kids realize this is a strange new world for me. They leave little piles of stuff around the house – socks, magazines, blankets, crafting supplies, etc. – all to make sure I have something to do to keep me busy and not missing them during the day when I am home alone in the quiet empty house.

They’re sweet and helpful like that.

Like I said though, Sam is doing really great. Although apparently on orientation day last week he leaned over to Ms Noland and said, “We need to talk about why my desk is glued to my chair.”

And on Tuesday he had a small moment of panic when Mrs. Stout erased his knowledge the answer to his math problem to help him learn the format she wants him to use in their classwork.

He is also having to learn that his teachers can’t give him a high five every.single.time. they walk past his desk. Or that he really doesn’t need to hug everyone in the school.

He’s really enjoying his literature class (they’re reading The Jungle Book by Kipling which is awesome because it has very little to do with the Disney version) but if you ask him what his favorite part of the day is he’ll tell you it’s grammar.

The boy does love words.

His latest joke:
What do you call a fake macaroni noodle?


Orientation Day

Technically the first (full) day of school is next Tuesday. At least that was Sam’s answer when I asked him how he liked his first day of school. Have I mentioned how literal* he can be?

I don’t really have a whole lot to share except that:

a.) He was super happy to go.
When I went in to wake him up he rolled over pretty quickly and told me, “I’ve been laying here trying to sleep.” He also said, “See you later, Mom” as soon as we pulled into the parking lot. Oh, no you don’t buddy boy! Mamma is coming inside! Although I did not hover and only peeked in his class a time or two. Or  three.

b.) He hugged almost the entire student body.
It started in the parking lot. He saw one of his best friends. And then Mr. K. And then…you get the point. When we got to his classroom he walked between each of the rows and greeted everyone in his class. A hug and a “Classmate!” if he wasn’t sure of a name.

c.) He did very well.

I knew he would. I mean, I knew they would have to tell him to slow down and that one hug per person is sufficient and that he couldn’t just talk when he wanted to. And they did and it was exactly what he needed to hear so that he can learn the social ques that govern us all. The sweet lady in this picture with Sam is Ms. Noland. She’s his core teacher and honestly she could not be a better fit for him. She has a very calm and quiet demeanor that helps pull him back when he gets ahead or is moving too fast. Which happen often.

d.) He was starving when we got home and I am pretty sure my grocery bill is going to go up because school boys expend a lot of energy being smart boys. That’s what he calls himself, proudly announcing that he is a School Boy now.

My heart squeezes at the words and my throat gets thick with emotion because of the satisfied way he says them. Like he knows that somehow he is a little more like everybody else. It’s the difference in always visiting some place and loving it and being welcomed there and moving in…of finding your place…of taking your place.

I can’t wait to see what this year holds for him.

*His latest joke:
What is Amelia Bedelia’s favorite shape?

A quadrilteral 🙂