After {Graduation 2019}

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From this morning

It is the night after Nathanael’s graduation culmination-

all the ceremonies; the after-party; the celebration complete with confetti scatter and balloons; photos and music and words

-bitter words among us and sweet co-mingled to create pain and joy- He (God) makes the bitter sweet. I need this.

I can’t sleep. There are a variety of factors that could be the physical cause of this– but perhaps it is just the deep need to place words in this place from my heart. To be alone in the quiet and let myself feel the weight of it all.

It is the after. This year, when I walked a path in which my own footsteps were still fresh(2018)- and the going was more difficult, and that was hard-

and now, as I face an ending, and a new beginning

and it is all so recent; and now– so not unknown- which is its own kind of hard. For me.

I have to remember as I look into his face that he is his own.

I wondered how I would muster 2019 with the same exhilarated joy as I did 2018. But, somehow, I did.  We did. It is and it was.

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And I sit in the glimmer of lamplight with an apt tribute all around me{his graduation display before me; my computer resting on 2019 confetti; remnants of covered sweets -a tribute of love and celebration; gold balloons gleaming; his face before me}. What feels like the remnants of a life… I try to take a moment to acknowledge all it is and was. My earnest endeavor laid out for this child, now man, whom I love and am so deeply proud.

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selfie before celebration

It is a mighty endeavor. Home Education. And, for a lot of it, I have done it alone. With Todd. It is an endeavor of heart, soul, mind, — faithfulness. It is the daily in and out over and over. It is knowing I will wake up and do it all again times 7 more souls, Lord willing- and O, Lord- help me.

I must choose hope. As I have done again, again, again, again – with each hard growing pain of life. And this is one of them.

This year felt hard. And, it felt slow. It felt like everything (including graduation, party, celebration, college admissions- everything) was just more than I could muster. And, somehow, muster, I did.

And there is the deep inner pang when I glance ahead to August. I want to do better next year {2019-20} than I did this year. I want the walk to be smoother; not hurt quite so bad; not feel quite so lopsided. I don’t know if it will.  Truth is, most likely it won’t. It will feel empty. It will feel like loss and grief. It will be hard as I lean into ministry and support of college-aged children while devoting attention to children at home with pressing needs. There will be grace; there will be blessings; there will be a lot of hard change.

I lean into the moment, and the people here in front of me. Some of whom are hard to love right now. My field is always before me, and I must not neglect it.

I will keep on loving. When it is hard. When it hurts. When I am unseen. When I am alone. When I am misunderstood. When I am rejected. When I am despised.

And, I will not be ashamed for the choices I make for the good of my family and my home. They are what they are- and often- intuitive- where I see the good much after.

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I will not be ashamed for being true to myself and who I am and who we {this family} are in each decision made. Live and learn; and on, on.

I will recognize that paths diverge and that does not mean my path is wrong.

I feel the burden of being alone.

“Things” are not finished. O, no. All I have to do is look one day ahead on my calendar, and my list wavers blurry and becomes shockingly clear right in front of my eyes. So, I have to choose to find rest in this moment. This one moment of completeness and culmination. Where I battled for joy and goodness and truth and honor. Because I did.

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Where I had to recognize weakness and frailty and the inability to get all the things done.  And it was what it was- with that. And, I did. Where I learned never again to decide to make the upstairs “off-limits” when hosting plenty of guests. O, no.

Where I felt exhausted and alone and at odds with this and that. And, I was.

Where I pause and acknowledge a deeper sweetness in marriage and joy in our love that is comfort and passion and friendship and {past and future} all woven together. I am the creative cacophony, and he is the order, service, and lines. As it always has been.

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It is the end of the day {literally and figuratively}.

I am the grateful mom of a homeschool graduate, and I take just a moment to acknowledge myself as educator; college admissions coach; guidance counselor; at-home Eagle Scout mentor; supervisor; and discipler. I finished high school well with this child.

I close my eyes. I see all their faces before me; precious, treasured. It is time to sleep. There is work to be done in the morn.

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-CCS Graduation Reception                                            We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. Hebrews 6:19

 

 

 

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Lenten Hope, Lenten Joy

i

40-day journey to the cross.

I posture my heart.

I posture my soul.

Face down- yet

lifted

(high)

ii

I clasp hands earnestly

and beseech

for joy and hope

at the table gathered

with children.

In the morning.

I pray.

iii

Later.

It is afternoon.

And, I am jolting

forward. stop. forward. stop.

hurtling jaggedly home

two cello players car (in)side with me.

and suddenly...

I am deliciously

captivated by the

word

incandescent-

incandescent... distilled to me from a moment

in a beautiful song. 

(I would never have found but for the son by my side)

iv

We are almost home- and oldest cellist and I study quickly

to gain the full understanding

of this lovely, lovely word:

it speaks to me.

  1. adjective incandescent: 

(of light) produced by incandescence.

glowing or white with heat.

intensely bright; brilliant.

brilliant; masterly; extraordinarily lucid:an incandescent masterpiece; incandescent wit.

aglow with ardor, purpose, etc.:the incandescent vitality of youth.

God, I love this song.

“Magic Mirror”

 

O, profound song. Speaking to me.

 

Inside, I weep.

And-

I joy.

v

Later, (on the road again) I ponder how that word

incandescent

thrilled me to the toes

and how

for a brief

whiff

of time, I felt so joyfully alive.

And, I’m grateful.

I think on… what makes me feel alive.

vi

I find myself stepping

into Target.

Target, of all places,

and… once again-

the joy is

rising.

a glimmer, found for me

among little girl dresses

with unicorns

and spring themed

garments hanging like

hope

in pinks, greens, purples, sky blue

and of course,

(silver and gold)

sparkle

for some reason

I am happy.

 I am happy among the spring themed atmosphere of Target.

I tell my son, and we laugh.

Target can do that to a lot of people, we ruminate.

As we walk out, the smell of coffee fills the air, and I fill my lungs.

With that good smell.

vii

In the car,

I realize

that I prayed,

in the morning

I prayed

for the reality

of joy

and the reality

of hope

and that we would ponder the way to the cross

and 

the joy of resurrection.

 

The truth is-

it has been a rare day that

I have felt the free joy

I found today.

I don’t take it for granted.

I am grateful.

O sun, O spring, O-

thankful for hope

and

feeling

for

goodness, joy, and life.

And knowing it is true.

viii

I am looking for Spring.

I am looking…

I am looking for my Savior,

lifted high.

I am looking

in the faces of the

ones around me-

and I am remembering,

to

pray.

Face down

yet lifted

(high).

 

Cookie Day 2018 and Filled Snickerdoodles

 

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Sugar cookies

We recently had our very first “Cookie Day” with my brother’s family. It was utterly delightful, and I am so glad I said, “yes!” when the idea came to us both in “relatively” early November. I struggled a bit with some aspects of the implementation and am thankful everyone worked together to make this day a sweet success. At the end, the little ones each got to fill a plate with six cookies- knowing that all the rest were going to head to Ama’s for Christmas Day and the days to come.

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I fell completely in love with cookie stamps! I found an Irish claddagh. It is a beautiful, stoneware cookie stamp that is even dishwasher safe. Cookie-making with these stamps was so, so fun!

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I was so happy to stumble upon a big sale at Michaels. It can be tricky finding safe sprinkles. The choices are limited. 

We set up three stations for the little ones:

decorating sugar cookies

cut-outs

cookie stamps

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Ever grateful for my husband who handles the cut-out station to perfection (orderly, organized, calm, fair, and so on!)

Ryan had the fantastic (cozy) suggestion to have crockpots of chili.

He brought a venison mango/sweet potato chili with a spicy kick. We made our turkey salsa/black bean chili.

While three adults manned the stations, my older kids were able to complete almost all of the rest of our Christmas cookie baking. Nathanael and Asher made their traditional peppermint cookie bark, and Abi made filled snickerdooodles.

We have gotten a lot of requests for our filled Snickerdoodle cookie recipe. These cookies are becoming holiday favorites for our teachers and other people we share them with at Christmas-time. They are definitely a festive treat!

I am sharing the recipe below! Merry Christmas, friends!

Filled Snickerdoodles
Cookie:
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 cup dairy free margarine or coconut oil
2 eggs
2 3/4 unbleached white flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
3 TB cinnamon
3 TB sugar      {for rolling dough balls in}
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Mix first six ingredients into a dough that forms small balls in your hands
Mix cinnamon/sugar mixture
Roll dough into balls and then in the cinnamon/sugar mixture.
Place on trays and back for 8-10 minutes.
Notes:
we prefer our cookies slightly soft so we choose the shorter cook time
we have found that baking these cookies on stoneware creates the absolute best cookie
coconut oil has a softer, richer texture than dairy free margarine
Filling:
Best Vanilla Frosting
1 stick dairy free margarine or 1/2 cup coconut oil (softened/melted)
1 tsp vanilla
4 cups confectioners sugar
Water or Vanilla flavored dairy free milk such as almond or rice milk
Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl and whip together
Notes:
we use our basic vanilla/white icing filling or sugar cookie icing
the icing made with coconut oil seems the most delicious- but it is the trickiest to make. If not careful, you can end up with a lumpy mess that is hard to salvage.
Let cookies cool completely. Fill with a light layer of frosting. Place in freezer or refrigerator until ready to give away or serve!
Note to my children: remember to make the cookies on the small, thin side. 🙂

Thanksgiving 2018

My photos aren’t that crisp or clear this year- and it feels a bit symbolic to me. In some ways, this seems (maybe more than I realize) to capture what is unique for Thanksgiving 2018.

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever. Psalm 136:1 NIV

 

Thanksgiving 2018
Appetizers
Halo oranges and pretzels
Wheat Thins and Special Sauce
Rippled Chips
Deviled Eggs
Main Meal
Roasted Turkey
Home-made Mashed Potatoes
Sweet Potato Bake
Cranberry Relish (with way more cranberries and way less sugar this year)
Broccoli Salad
Coleslaw
Cucumber and Red Onion Salad (alas our Spring Mix housed Romaine 😦 )
Crusty (home-made) Rolls with Earth Balance
Desserts
(I think we overdid on our desserts this year! But, we eat much for breakfast the next day (and for days after) with scrambled eggs, and dessert recipes are one of the children’s favorite ways to participate in the feast. Everyone has their favorite(s).) 
Apple Pie (Joshua)
Jewish Apple Cake (Nate)
Pumpkin Pie (Jonah)
Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie (Jonah)
Chocolate Cream Pie (twins)
Pumpkin Roll (Asher/Abi)
Pumpkin Bar (Asher/Abi)
Tofutti “cheese” cake with chocolate swirl and fresh squeezed lemon (Norah)

The Hundred Acre Wood, Morning Meeting, and me

Todd found me pouring over an article on my phone this morning. A few inquiring questions, and I was a mess of choked tears. Hands over my face. Sputtering an explanation.

Sometime last week, I informed my six  young (ish) children that I was going to be adding something of keen importance to our morning meeting time and that I was planning to make a continued valiant effort toward consistency of said meeting.  The addition would be the inclusion of classic read aloud.  And the reading time would be short- but it would be faithful. Little by little, I determined I would see a stack of well-loved favorites committed to our common heritage.

I wanted to read An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving by Louisa May Alcott. I have had it for awhile and never read it- and I thought it would be perfect. Slim, festive volume. Thanksgiving quickly coming…

 But I wasn’t able to find it (as of yet). My shelves are a complete tumble; and my hand lit upon The House At Pooh Corner and The Hundred Acre Wood.

I have long loved the “Pooh” Tales for the perceptive insight into the creative world of a child and the poignant bittersweet of this beautiful, innocent, fleeting season. But, I have never read both volumes in entirety- and for some reason, I just felt- the time was now.

So, today, I began. Nested books together, I snapped a picture.

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And somewhere, deep in my soul, I felt a witness: that this might be difficult. — that this might mean choked tears.

I am slayed by motherhood. Again, again. These days.

I read the introduction and Joshua asked: What does A. A. Milne stand for? And so, I searched. Alan Alexander Milne. And in the search, I discovered what led me to those sorrowing tears. Estrangment of father and son. Bitterness. Disconnected hearts. Deep disconnect.

Now, a caveat. It was a wikipedia article- and I quickly searched Amazon and then the library- and found autobiography by father and one by son. So, I plan to reserve those and read for ,myself- as the Britannica article mentioned nothing of the sort. But further research, did indeed, reveal a chasm of broken- ness and disconnect.

My heart broke at the thought that this perceptive father- who ( I thought was- but apparently he was not)  in tune with his son; so connected in and through his childhood world, would lose that precious relationship when that son grew up.

There is a scene at the end of The House At Pooh Corner that beats with the pulse of a parent’s heart and a child’s destiny:

“So they went off together. But wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way, in that enchanted place on the top of the Forest, a little boy and his Bear will always be playing.” 

And then, there it was. The heart wrench of leaving. The grief of loss. The children grow up. The season changes.

And Todd sat down and laughed in his wonderful way – and made me laugh, too- and remarked about tax law and regulations and him crying over the federal law changes. His unfeigned and utter disbelief over me crying while reading Wikipedia and A. A. Milne. He is the smile behind my tears. And he  cast (legitimate) suspicious doubt over such a source ( of course). And I tried to explain the perception and connectedness needed to write such a tale- and the understanding of a child’s world- and of course, (and this is the part that made me weep… the part about being in all those moments with children where their wonder is my wonder; and their joy is my joy; and the thread that twines between is flame and gold; and their hand in mine; and their story is my story):

my heart cracked for Micah-

 my writer; my world builder; my dreamer of worlds.

But all in all, I knew it -the sudden reckoning way, that has been happening to me. My heart is sore. And this: this 2018-19 Senior year. It’s hard. It is a hard year for me.

 I have been having more trouble than ever managing the chores; the practical navigations of the home and life; the plate is fuller than it has ever been.

I’ve never had a favorite age in a child before. I have loved it all in every season. But, I think….

 I think seventeen might just be my favorite.

(you are all my favorites)

And I have one before me now- and I know what it feels like…now. And O! what utterly delightful people my darlings are. What things they say; what wisdom they possess; what beauty they find.

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I have to grow bigger and stronger and taller inside.

But I wouldn’t change it. I wouldn’t change anything. I am glad to have been in my dear hearts’ “hundred acre wood” and I pray I can be there again.

 

My little one, she’s only five.

Live and Learn and Giving my Life to God

I wrote this a little bit ago- as I worked to process a lot of incoherent emotions and difficulty in myself while I tried to begin needed work for Nathanael. For me, senior year is difficult. One, we cast a wide net as far as college searching goes- and it is a very uncertain time for our family. Even though I am doing things differently with Nathanael- there is still a lot of uncertainty.  Two, it is a very difficult balance and dance with an almost young adult child and student. I think I wish there were clear answers and a defined path- but for us, so far, really there has not been. And there are a lot of hard decisions. All the time.  So, now- for the post I wrote:

It is not amiss to say that I have been having some post-traumatic stress responses as I face a senior year again so soon after Micah’s.

I have some resources/a link I want to share with dear readers and friends- so I am working to unearth some of the swirl of challenge in my soul to write this post.

I have passionately and vehemently proclaimed a motto of “Live and Learn” in response to my experience reaching graduation and homeschooling to college. My family knows it well. My students (children) have been recipients of said proclamation. I have made several adjustments to our home school based on what I have learned through my experience with my two oldest sons (one graduated and one now! a senior)- and I am working on implementing them immediately.

One area I have been struggling with is remorse and regret. While Micah is off to the college of his choice, a Honors Program participant, and a (large) Scholarship recipient, it is very clear to me (in retrospect) some areas where I should have done better in the application and record keeping process. And not only that, but also in our academic journey. I have made immediate changes for 2018-19 with my high school students- and potentially- my seventh grader. All of that said, I have been struggling manfully to move forward and do some things differently starting immediately with Nathanael’s college journey. I become entangled in my spun web of remorse and regret- and guilt.  Micah’s horizon is golden (thank You, Lord) but there is some financial stress and hardship that breaks my heart. The only thing I can do is continue forward into each day “living and learning” in the Lord.

My whole heart, soul, sweat, blood, and tears are wrapped up in last year. It is hard to move forward in the wake of it all. But, I must. And, I am. I have to leave that part behind and move on and move in and move forward. I have a brown-eyed blessing looking to me- for more than courses, credits, and transcripts. For Life. For the Lord. For God’s Love. For Stability and yes, for all. the. things (scholarship applications, essays, records, recommendation letters, college visits, college interviews and on, on).

With that said, I have to trust that I did the best I could with what I had- and in the areas that I didn’t (because there was an area I actively resisted- and O! I regret it!) , God’s grace is more than sufficient. And this is where I give the whole of my life to God… successes, failures, decisions, dreams. I give all into His Hand. I release it all and continue to move forward into each day with the best (Lord willing) that I have. I need to actively choose to trust His provision in the life of each of my children- individually- as I continue to do my (insufficient) best by them. But where I am insufficient- HE is sufficient- and this is where I am struggling to rest.

One of the areas that I am doing differently (and that might benefit someone out there) is in the area of home school record keeping and transcripts for high school. This was a little tricky for me with Micah because we are in a diploma program and I did not fully understand- but- now, I do. I took our diploma program credential as sufficient accreditation and proof of the integrity of our learning program- when, in reality, our studies went far, far beyond their basic requirements- and it would have been much, much better if I would have provided the full scope of my student’s learning through a Comprehensive Record File.

Note: I did provide the Official Transcript, School Profile, Counselor Letter, Recommenders, Essays, Writing Samples (where needed/requested), ACT and SAT scores and more.

Sometimes, I struggle to give the time needed to all the details, paperwork, and record keeping that makes up a well-documented home school (I wonder: is this really needed? Isn’t there someone else who could do this? Shouldn’t my student be doing this? How do I spend the time on this? I have also questioned how to figure out where my child should apply to college, what colleges, Christian or secular, commuter or residential… And the questioning can swirl on and on- effectively making me inert when I should be in active, directed motion)

– but I have learned that it is a wise and needed investment to dig in and work on this needed, detailed paperwork. I have also learned that it is a worthy life work and the end result- a comprehensive record is a worthy testimony and document of a journey well- lived. It is also a gift to my student- who will have documentation, work samples, and a reflection of these very special years to carry forward into their adult life. With Google Drive and other Cloud Applications, it is easy to upload such records for safe keeping and no clutter. Ready right at the fingertips whenever needed.

So, with those thoughts unearthed and uncovered, dear friends, I would like to recommend (with absolutely no affiliation or benefit to myself)

Lee Binz’s Comprehensive Record Solution and Total Transcript Solution.

I attended a Free Webinar called Super Scholarships for Humble Homeschoolers and was able to access a special for the Record Solution with the Total Transcript a free bonus.  These resources have everything I needed last year (for Micah) and didn’t have. Templates and examples right at the fingertips. I googled many things (last year) like Activities Resume, School Profile examples, Counselor Letters, and so on. And I do suggest research- but having all this right at hand is SO helpful.

I do not know if compiling a comprehensive record for Nathanael will open a greater pathway for financial provision for him- as Micah did get right to the full tuition interview at Messiah and alternate for another full scholarship- but at least I will have the confidence, peace, and security of knowing that I did all needed. Nathanael is also going to apply for a selective scholarship that Micah did not apply for- that will need all of these details- so I must trust this is the Lord’s timing. I learned a lot- and I am going forward in the living.

Lord, let me see Your goodness in the Land of the Living. Increase our trust in You. Forgive me.

Friends, I pray you are blessed in your journey- wherever that may be and how the Lord leads you.

For His excellent greatness (Psalm 150:2)

Rebecca

May 1st, 2018

Micah ranked up to Eagle Scout (8 p.m) and made a College Choice Decision (8 a.m.).

I scanned and emailed Honors College and Scholar Forms that were due today…

We discovered that two physical merit badges were missing…which led to an investigation of a possible need to take a trip to the (far away) Scout shop (we didn’t have to…)

I had an unfortunate issue relating to a job that caused the overturn of purse and backpack-

which then led

to me forgetting to put my wallet back in my purse (unknowingly)

while traversing to a piano lesson and then the store- where I proceeded to fill my cart with needed items for dinner and unknowingly- no wallet.

To which God provided miraculously through said purse (but not through my wallet) 

which was then located at home, safely placed, in the wrong purse.

To which, then, dinner was made – and a Scouting Uniform attended to-

and then the grand load up of kith and kin to attend Micah’s major milestone-

which involved traversing in two cars- for a reason which shall remain un-named-

forthwith- we all arrived in due time and crunched together in one small room-

Waiting the momentous event and enjoying cell phone pictures of a wee baby bunny and

a pool newly opened- from Pennsylvania family

to which we were the happy recipients of the next Troop 9 Eagle Scout and a long, hard journey completed-

which, hopefully, oldest son will always hold in his heart.

Because, he

chose Eagle.

It was an infamous, difficult, anxious, finally completed

day.

And this verse-

Isaiah 40:31 ESV; emphasis mine

31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
    they shall mount up with wings like

EAGLES

they shall run and not be weary;
    they shall walk and not faint.