Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Seeing God at Work - My Friend Eileen

Those of you who have been reading my blog a while may remember my friend Eileen, a Christian homeschool mom of 9 - 3 biological, 2 adopted from the US, 3 adopted from Ethiopia, and 1 Ethiopian teen adopted by the heart! Following my friend on this adoption journey these past 6 years has been an amazing, jaw-dropping, goose bump-raising experience of seeing God at work in and through his people.

Real miracles, people.

Coincidences so unreal that even the strongest skeptic would have to take notice. Even though Eileen thought that bringing home her 3 babies from Africa was the "end of the story" of what God was doing in the Mestas family.... HA! She was wrong! There is more....

Check out her blog for the newest adventure! www.jobsdaughters.blogspot.com

And if you haven't read her blog before, go grab a mug of coffee or cup of tea and go to the beginning of her posts for the WHOLE STORY. You might want some kleenex. And buckle your seat belt!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Sweet 16 Mother-Daughter Weekend

This has been the summer of Sweet 16's. Amanda turned 16 in July and five other friends all turn 16 within a month or two of each other. Last weekend Ellie pulled a twist and threw a surprise birthday party for herself, surprising her friends! Yes, she invited 3 friends to her house for a sleepover, but instead kidnapped them and their moms ( the moms were warned ahead of time ) and took us to Asheville for the weekend!

We had the best time! We stayed at Country Inn & Suites in Asheville - with the 4 moms in one room and the 4 girls in the next room - I think the moms were up talking later than the girls both nights! Friday night we had dinner at a wonderful Thai restaurant called Noi's Thai Kitchen, owned by friends of the Mestases. Lenny helped us order a variety of dishes which the eight of us shared family style - spring rolls; fresh rolls w/ peanut sauce; chicken & shrimp Pad Thai (rice noodle stir fry ); Panang Curry; Horapa stir fry w/ beef; pineapple fried rice. I had never had Thai food before, and it was totally delicious!!!

Then... THEN.... on Saturday and Sunday we went to the Biltmore Estate, an enormous mansion and estate built by George Washington Vanderbilt II between 1888 and 1895, which is the largest privately owned home in the United State, at 175,000 sq. ft. and 250 rooms!!! As the shuttle bus driver told us on the way up from the parking lot - 43 bathrooms and you can't use any of them! Okay, they DID have public restrooms, but outside of the main house in the gift shop and cafe area.

I had heard of Biltmore Estate, but had never been there - if you ever have the chance, it was SO worth it! The house is gorgeous, and you can either walk through on a self-guided tour, rent a headset for an audio tour, or pay for a guided tour. We went through by ourselves, stopping to ask questions of the workers standing throughout the house, who were more than happy to fill us in with various fun facts about the estate and the family who once lived there! It took us about 3 hours just to walk through the house. Then there are acres and acres of beautiful gardens and ponds and walkways, plus the carriage house and stable which now are gifts shops and a cafe, where we ate a delicious lunch.

the "Flower Carpet"

the Stables are now the Stable Cafe...

The gardens were gorgeous... and we found a great tree for a Mother-Daughter photo session.

Birthday Girl!

We ran out of time so we didn't get to visit the Winery or River Bend Farm, the working dairy farm on the property - but we did stop for photos by the sunflower field, where we had an impromptu prayer & worship time as the sun set behind the mountains!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Whaaa! I'm Not Ready!

We are starting school next week. At least we are starting Tapestry of Grace Year 3, because our co-op starts next Friday. And I am NOT ready! I am scarily not ready. I am still printing off Unit 1 pages for Amanda's and Jason's notebooks - reading assignment list, Student Activity Pages, maps, weekly vocabulary list and worksheets. But I haven't printed off my Teacher notes or Rhetoric class outlines yet, or the Rhetoric Poetics & Frameworks pages. And of course, I will be out of town this weekend and therefore, I am rushing to get next week's material ready, and won't have the whole unit done, as I wanted.
Can you hear me whining? Whaaa!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Golden Anniversary

My parents are celebrating their 50th Wedding Anniversary this fall, so we 4 kids threw them a surprise party on August 1st. Well, it started as a surprise but .... you know how that goes. About 60 relatives as well as friends and neighbors joined us on a beautiful sunny day for food, fun, and warm wishes. My brother and sister, since they are the two siblings who LIVE up there and did the bulk of the planning, rented a pavillion at a local farm for a big picnic / party. There was a swimming pool, volleyball net, horseshoes, bonfire pit, and hayride. They also rented a Moonbounce for the kids, which was a hit as always. I planned the menu and did most of the cooking with help from my girls. My sister and sister-in-law took care of the cake and other desserts, as well as drinks. And my brothers and brother-in-law manned the grills. We had hot dogs, hamburgers, Italian sausage, and teriyaki chicken kabobs, Italian pasta salad, fruit salad, roasted garlic rosemary potatoes, baked beans, and shells in marinara sauce. WAY more than enough - we could have fed twice as many people!

Mom and Dad, we love you! Glad you enjoyed the festivities.

My 9-yr-old niece made the cake on the left. Good job, Adrianna.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

A Day in Boston

Whew! Well, it has been a busy summer. We spent a week in Massachusetts visiting family, and while there went into Boston for a little history. We took the train into South Station, then bought tickets for the City View Trolley tour, which is a get-on-and-off trolley that stops at numerous historic sites in Boston. You get off when you want, spend as much time as you like, then get on another trolley. It was.... okay. The last time we did the Boston history tour, about 9 years ago, we went on a walking tour of the Freedom Trail led by a National Park Ranger. It was FREE and the ranger was very knowledgeable. But it was a lot of walking. We decided to try the trolley tour this time because of my knees and Sarah's back. But I didn't think it was nearly as informative, and we still did a good bit of walking. If you go to Boston and want to really learn about the history, go with the National Park Service.

The Boston Freedom Trail is a 2 1/2 mile red brick trail that takes you to 16 historic sites, most from the American Revolution.

Bunker Hill Monument - the kids did climb the 294 steps to the top!

One non-Revolutionary era site was this WWII Destroyer docked at Constitution Wharf.

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Saturday, August 8, 2009

Remember Those Carefree Summer Days ?

I remember my childhood when I spent just about every day at the town beach, a mile from my house, swimming and doing arts & crafts and playing with friends. My mom loaded us kids in the car each morning with a picnic lunch and we had FREE swimming lessons in the morning, ate lunch, and then spent 2 or 3 hours swimming and playing in the sand. In the evening we played kickball and wiffle ball in the back yard, swung on the tire swing, and played Red Light, Green Light or Mother May I. I was the oldest of 4 kids, and we were each other's playmates. I don't remember watching much tv, and going to play at a friend's house was a rare treat. We also spent hours wandering through the woods, following the brook for a mile or more until we came to another road and followed it back home, and scrambling over large boulders and stone walls that became a play house or even a whale in the ocean. Our Massachusetts home had no air conditioning, and windows were always wide open to catch a bit of a breeze. Some nights we slept outside in a tent, or on our screen porch.
My parents were both school teachers, so they were home in the summer and we usually took one or more family camping trips, visiting state parks and fun places all over the Northeast and Mid Atlantic. Another fun summer memory was going to the drive-in movies, when we kids would get in our pjs, mom would make a big bowl of popcorn and put juice in Tupperware cups with lids ( in the days before sippy cups, she punched holes in the lids and inserted drinking straws ), and we'd get to see TWO movies - if we could stay awake that late! We also spent time with aunts, uncles, and cousins, for cookouts and birthday parties ( I have a summer birthday).
Ah, the lazy carefree summer days of childhood.... somehow my kids aren't having the same experience, I don't think.