Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Child's Play

When our older kiddos were in grade school, I used to take them on all kinds of field trips.  You know, that is a real plus to homeschooling.  You choose the place, the day, the lunch, the time frame.  You choose if you go alone or with other families.  You see what you want, and then you all go home and nap.  It's really a sweet deal. 
One of our favorite places back then was the Denver Nature and Science Museum.  This place is huge. And despite the overbearing evolutionary junk, it was a nice place to spend the day.

 But as the boys got older, I started finding myself sandwiched between the ever-changing needs of adolescents and the fatigue of being pregnant and caring for newborns late into my thirties.  You know, teenagers up at night, wanting to eat and talk...Babies up early in the morning, wanting to eat and talk...So naturally, the field trips got put on the shelf.  Not intentionally, mind you, just sort of, out of necessity.  So I could breathe. And sleep. And manage my ever-growing family without loosing my mind.  Which didn't really happen.  But at least I tried.

Well, I am mid-forties now.  I most likely will not be having any more babies.  And I have graduated two young men from high school.  Kenny has taken over much of Sammy and Tommy's schooling. And I find myself itching for something more enjoyable than hauling older kids to speech and debate tournaments and co-ops and jobs all over the state, you know so they can work and make their own money...With my gas. 

I digress...

So, at the beginning of this school year, I started putting together a wish list of sorts.  For fun things to do. Outdoor walks, learning days, company tours. And the Denver Museum once again made it's way back onto that list.  Because it had been too long.  And...it was a free day.

"Wow, Mom, that dino-sword is WAY taller than me!', says a very excited two year-old.

Green girls at the Space Odyssey

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Pretty cool deep-sea divers

Lunch Time!  As we ate, we found ourselves talking about and drooling over the idea of BBQ ribs and such...Perhaps because our lunch consisted mainly of fruit and nuts!

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Digging for Fossils

The BEST water table I have ever seen.  I wanted to take it home with me!

Michael loved building these critters, until another little person wanted to 'share' the pieces.  Michael looked at the boy, dropped his toy, and walked off disgusted, muttering to himself.

At lunch, I kept seeing Sarah put her hand down toward the ground, ever-so-sneakily.  So eventually I took a peek under her chair and found these poor unwanted pecans lying on the floor. 

This water vortex really kept Sarah's attention.  She just kept saying, "Mom, we have got to get a family pass to this museum!"

Engineer in the making.

Michael didn't get the point of these over-sized Tinker Toys.  Then he walked over to a video demonstration, and came back, victoriously putting them together!

Friday, October 3, 2014

The Comfort of Tradition

Traditions and familiarity are important.

That savory aroma that brings you back to the comfort of your Grandmother's kitchen.
The gentle hum of the neighbor's lawn mower on warm summer afternoons.
The children's story book you read over and over and over until the cover was hanging by a thread and the jam-covered pages almost smiled at you.
The same Christmas treats, baked every single year; even though you add in new recipes, you will never not make the tried and true.
That list of favorite hymns that brings you back to your childhood church, as you stood right in the middle of your quiet, gentle, towering parents, soaking up the richness of the human voice reaching out to God.
New school supplies and clothes.  And a lunchbox. Every year.
The changing of the seasons, cold to warm to hot to cool and back to cold again.  Just like clockwork.
Your Mother, always in the kitchen taking care of the family after you trudged home and fell on the couch after a long day of school.
The well-worn places in your Bible, calling you over and over to stop and read and be refreshed and filled by His thoughts.

These things are comforting.  They speak without a word.  They are the invaluable sights and sounds and smells and feelings that have gently shaped us, year after year. They are the traditions, the familiar traditions that seem to possess a priceless ability to calm us and keep us grounded.

Every fall we have a celebration in our home.  Because Mom adores this time of the year.  And now my family does too.  We decorate and cook and light candles and have our once-a-year fall feast.  We find comfort in this tradition with each other. Danny even made sure he was off work for it. 
Joey got a care package with chowder soup mix, candy corns, and apple cider mix. But boy, was he missed. First year without him.
Whether Thanksgiving turkeys or Autumn leaves, our children's little hands have graced craft projects like this one for almost 20 years.

My lovely daughters put most of this together before I even got a chance to.
We don't' have a tablecloth long enough, so we just use a small one for a splash of color.  

Like our new fall goblets?  Emma and I found them at our grocery store for 75c a piece. Maybe someday I'll have real crystal instead of the cartooned-woodland-creature theme, but I'm not holding my breath!
 Clam chowder, real apple cider, apples with caramel dip, and candy corns are the menu each Autumn.  I know Dr. Atkins would not approve, but it really is yummy.  
And besides, it's tradition.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Harvest Day at Miller Farms

 Growing up in Oregon, one can get pretty spoiled.  I remember spitting our watermelon seeds of the high deck in the summer only to find lovely little plants growing down below a few weeks later.
Not so where I live now.  Semi-arid, short growing seasons don't lend themselves to abundance unless you're willing to put in a lot of time and effort.
So when my good friend Tabby called and asked if we wanted to join up at Miller Farms for the day, we jumped on it.  And we are glad we did. Good friends, brilliant sunshine (we all came home sunburned), wagon rides through the farm to pick our own produce, and a corn maze to boot.
It was a lovely day with people I love, in country I love.
Not bad for a Pacific Northwest Snob.

It actually got quite hot; close to 100 degrees.  Toward the end of the trail we had run out of water and were borderline *unhappy*.  One of the kids cracked open a watermelon they had picked and passed it around for a drink!

Ellie's celery was bigger than she was!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Sargents are Back to School!

Happy Sigh.
When the last two years of your life have utterly and completely worn you thin and it's almost summer and you know you won't have much to give your sweet home-schooled children come fall if you don't take a really really long break...
You take that break. In the middle of graduating your second son from high school and throwing him two goodbye parties and celebrating three special birthdays and having two cars bust in the most expensive ways so that you are a serious Taxi Mom for many days...
You take that break.
And so then, when the end of summer rolls around, and you are pulling out those wonderfully familiar history books and math books and science books, and you are piecing together schedules and lists to give your bee-hive some sense of order, you find yourself being very glad that you took a break.  Even though your kiddos were certainly almost *bored* some days, although we aren't allowed to use the word *bored* in this house...because boredom is not an option.
And then...when that first day of school does roll around (TODAY!!) you find yourself happy sighing through the day.  Because you love what you do.  You love your children. You love the books and the new school supplies and the lists.  You love the simple questions that turn into complex conversations.  You love the sweetness of your younger ones and the growth in your older ones. You love giving them God's Word as seeds in their hearts.  You love actually planning your meals again (yeah, not so good this summer on that one....) You love order, even when some may not think that what we do is orderly, to us it is. You love the fact that while you are still learning, you are not a newbie anymore.
Oh yes, you definitely love that one.
Thankful for this sweet day.
Happy sigh.
No, I did not give my children bags full of candy to celebrate the first day of school.
And no, they did not eat all of that candy in one morning.
And no, we did not have hyper-activity issues this afternoon. 

Not sure why Pictionary Man is in this picture, but the kiddos enjoyed their goodie bags nonetheless.

Ready to Learn

Ellie was pretty excited to be starting some kindergarten work!

And another tooth lost to boot!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Last of Our Summer Days

Summer is winding down around here...Grandparents arrive tomorrow morning.  The temperatures are heading toward the 70's. And the children and the school books are itching to get re-acquainted.
Soon we will be switching from salad to soup.  From free time to study time.  From T-shirts to hoodies.
Once more, one season gently lessens and another takes its place.
Once more, we get to see the handiwork of God.  In the yellowing of the leaves.  In the cooling of the breezes.  In the falling of the apples.  In the routine replacing the romping. His invisible hand amazes me.  Every season, it amazes me. 

August 2 was our One Year Anniversary for buying this home.
We celebrated with tres leches cake and writing more blessings from the last year to fill our jar.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

To Camp or Not to Camp?

Last weekend was our church camping weekend up in the Rockies.
I grew up camping. My husband did not.  And he still wonders why we would want to subject ourselves to all that stress just to see some trees.
So, we have never gone camping.
I am a firm believer that a wife should not nag her husband.  Not a perfect example, but a firm believer!
However...I really wanted to go with the church.  Because when your children get invited each year to go with other families and you just sort of...stay home...it's not very fun.
So...Kenny was kind enough to take us down for an afternoon, to check it out. To see if he even liked it one bit.  To see if he would even think it might be possible to load up our crew and head down for a few days next August.
Man, the drive was amazingly beautiful.  Pike's Peak on our left, trees all around, 75 degrees, bright blue skies.  God is amazing!! Therapy for this Mama.
We spent the day fellow-shipping and playing cards and walking around.
And perhaps, just perhaps, we might be back next August.  With the church.  And a camper.  And all the hassles.  And all the beauty.
Because my husband didn't hate it.
I'll keep you posted.

Emma took Sarah and Ellie up to the Dragon's Eggs.

Love the hands in the pockets. And the rubber boots.  Michael lives in those boots!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

He Has Wings

 It's a strange thing, saying goodbye.  Part of you wants to put it off just a little longer, most of you wants to get it over with.
Last weekend, we drove Joey out to Kansas City where he will attend a ministry/music school for the next four years.
You don't really know how much you love someone until something changes.
As he is looking forward, his Mama and siblings spent some time looking back.  Back to his childhood, his growing into manhood.  Back to where all the children were younger and things seemed simpler. Back to the time it seemed nobody would ever really leave home. Because when you home school, you are just about always together.  Kind of like one giant living thing.  With many, many mouths.
We got him settled into his wonderful new place.  He has a family to live with.  A warm family. A family with eight older children. A family who home schooled. 
He has a roommate.  David is kind and happy and quiet.
He has good neighbors.  He has a good school.
He has the Creator of the Universe.
He has wings.
Joey at his High School graduation, complete with two cool bro's.
Joey and Sarah, climbing the Castle Rock, on the 10 siblings' last full day together.
Kenny and I, heading down our driveway, taking Joey to school.
Little Mikey, waving goodbye.