This morning as I look out my school room window all seems so quiet, so peaceful, so slow moving. The cows are gently moving as they adjust their weight to grab a mouthful of grass from a little further away. Adelvise the goat is beginning to meander toward the milking area, snacking as she goes. Lilly the other goat is typically still lazing about. It is creepy how similar we are, both gluttons, both overweight, and both NOT morning “people”. I haven’t seen Tookie, Aubrey’s squirrel dashing around nor are the birds yet chirping loudly enough to hear from with our family sanctuary. The only sound is that of the two young roosters (they were suppose to be hens) with their broken cockle doodle do. I can’t help but giggle at them as their new voices crack like any adolescent human boy adjusting to his new deeper voice. I am struck however at the stark difference this slow peaceful morning is from the speed in which our lives are actually moving.
This summer has been but a blur. Many of our closest homeschooling friends have moved or start “real” school this coming Monday. We were blessed to have the opportunity to travel around the south east visiting some of them. The first stop on our road trip was to pay our respects to the brave men who worked or were imprisoned at Camp Sumter, Andersonville, GA. As we toured the property the weight of their sacrifices and those of all our troops, especially POWs was palpable. The tour can be done from your car with a cd the museum provides. As you drive around a gentle voice describes what you are seeing, what had been there, and additional facts. You can then stop at the different points to get out to get a closer look. It was a very hot day. We longed for the relief from the heat provided by our minivan’s a/c. This made the experience even more profound, we could escape to the relief of a/c and cool liquids on ice in our cooler, snacks everywhere scattered around the van. How little we understand of sacrifice.
Fast forward it is now evening. Poor Lilly, she was not being her lazy self she actually had gotten all tied up with some wire Beef the cow broke. We were pretty scared for a bit but she seems to be doing OK. Aubrey is out mothering her while I watch over dinner. Mmmmmm, potstickers! Anyway….
Let’s try again. It is now the next day?!?! Lillie is still just OK. She is limping but will walk for food Did I mention she is gluttonous? Her back legs are still very swollen and she prefers to stay laying down. If her legs do not look better by morning I am going to have to call the vet again. Please pray for her full recovery, Aubrey is very worried about her most treasured critter.
As I recall, before my tranquil morning was hijacked, we were discussing our summer field trip. After Andersonville we headed to South Carolina to visit my friends Christine and Tammy and their families. The Lord blessed our trip continuously. Days before we were scheduled to arrive Tamm’ys brother called to tell her he could get away that same weekend and could she arrange her youngest child’s Baptism for that weekend. Since, as I am often heard quoting, the universe revolves around ME, we were able to be there to witness baby Augies big moment. I was so grateful that my children and I were able to witness Augie receive the gift of Baptism, to have been made into a child of God, to have died with Christ and to have been reborn through the waters. As the Baptismal prep teacher for my parish I am often awed by such a huge gift offered to us by God, given to us so freely He wants us to receive it before we can earn it by learning to talk so that we can ask for it. What a moment when the Baptismal candle is lit and our hearts and bodies see what the soul knows, that this child now carries within Him the true light, the light of Christ. It was also such a wonderful opportunity to spend time with Tammy, her family, and extended family, not to mention eating thie rwonderful food…. see I told you, glutton like Lilly the goat.
That was Saturday, Sunday I drove Aubrey and her friend Elizabeth to the N. Georgia Mountains for camp with the Home of the Mother Sister’s. Wow, what a beautiful location. They stayed at a place called Bridge Ministries. The small chapel overlooks the Appalachian mountain foothills. The air is somehow crisper, sweeter not to mention cooler. When I dropped off the girls I met the director of the facility Theresa. The Sisters were running very late (Jacksonville to Blairsville SC is a long drive) soTheresa and I had an opportunity to tour the property and talk. We discovered we had some mutual friends. Laura, the mutual friend, and her family had moved up to N.GA soon after we left South Florida so we had lost touch. Theresa immediately called Laura, we became re-acquainted and a lunch date was planned for when I picked Aubrey up the next weekend. Wow, the Lord has so many neat gifts just waiting to surprise us with. SO in such great hands I left Aubrey and headed back the 3 hours to Christine’s place.
What a wonderful week. Steve Christine’s husband was such a gracious host. He took us out on his new tri-toon boat and gave us the full lake tour. We swam around little islands, Joshua jumped from a very high rock (remind me never to take him to Acapulco), we had a wonderful lunch, went riding on one of those big floats you pull behind the boat, and played in a waterfall that is right there on the lake. Steve was so gracious he even let Misty (my lab puppy) join us. She loved every minute too. Christine also took us for a short hike to a beautiful waterfall where we could play and swim with it all to ourselves. It was a slice of heaven. Christine really made us feel welcome and comfortable. The boys played with their friends Nathan, Maggie, and Patrick. They played with Star Wars action figures, they played Legos, Wii, outside in their creek, with the hose, on the driveway with chalk in the basement, on the stairs, everywhere. They had such a wonderful time. To my horror and Christine and Steve’s pleasure, Max was completely out of control hysterical when we had to head home. Ok, ok, ok yes I admit it I cried a bit too, but I didn’t make a scene.
After we picked Aubrey up from camp we headed to my newly reconnected friend Laura’s house. It was awesome to see her and her wonderful girls again. They live on the most beautiful peace of land in an incredible home. I could have just curled up in a corner in the kitchen and stayed there happily forever. It is always so neat to find that although everyone is older friends with so much in common can just pick up again right where they left off. We enjoyed great company, good food, and a happy reconnection that I hope will last for years to come. Not to mention the plum jelly is delicious…..mmmmmmmm.
Before we headed home we went to KY to visit Kirsten and her family in their new home. It was Kirsten’s birthday the day I picked Aubrey up from camp so to surprise both Aubrey and Kirsten, not to mention Joshua and Max, I drove us to KY. It was really so nice to be there. It proved to me that the old adage ”home is where the heart is” is true even if the home is home away from home. For years Kirsten’s home both in Eustice and then in Howie had been our home away from home and even now so far away her new home quickly filled the space left by the old home and again we were at home away from home. We were able to attend Mass at their new parish, St Louis Bertrand where my friend Lorrie attends when she visits home (her hubby is in residency here at one of the Gainesville hospitals, and where her hubby’s family has been going for many years. The church is beautiful. Having been born and raised in Florida, especially South Florida I am not used to the churches being so beautiful. Sadly many of Kirsten’s children were sick with fevers and ear aches while we were there, but I think it was a blessing. The pressure to go and run around seeing everything was eliminated. Instead we got to relax and spend a few days just being together. Joshua, Max and her middle son lived at the creek catching huge frogs. Aubrey and Kirsten’s oldest three watched video’s, made video’s and enjoyed just hanging out together. I just loved being there listening again to their voices giggling about something or other. As is often the case for me in Kirsten’s company I felt at peace.
Last stop Christine’s again. We took the long way back to Christine’s, stopping to see Davie Crockett’s birth place museum. It was a sweet little park. Although it was a bit out of the way and we will probably never get there again I am glad we took the time to see it. We also stopped to get out and stretch at a scenic view rest area. We arrived back at Christine’s in time for bed. We spent 1 full day recovering from our long drive to and from KY. What a gift the Lord provided in my friend Christine. She and I spent our time together looking through homeschool stuff enjoying a well deserved glass of wine and encouraging each other in our vocations as wives and so mothers and homeschoolers. The morning we left, the morning of Max’s breakdown, we attended daily Mass with Tammy and her family and then we followed them out to a wonderful you-pick (one where my favorite food guy, Alton Brown had visited and shot a scene at). We picked the most delicious figs and blueberries. Then we were on the road. I have to admit by the time we arrived I was happy to be home, I was exhausted.
Thank you to my friends for opening your homes and hearts to us. We had a wonderful trip and hope that it wont be a full year before we see you again. May God Bless each of you and your families.
Here are some pictures and the video of Joshua’s jump.
Considering it has taken me 3 days to write this and re-save the pictures small enough to be comfortable I am not going to wait until tomorrow to proofread. I am too tired to do it tonight and I want to move on