Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Time ...

"...and time for all the works and days of hands, that lift and drop a question on your plate..."
T. S. Eliot

My home school years lurch one after the other, engulfing all of my faculties for months on end such that I hardly have time to look closely at the strange reflection staring back at me from that heartless mirror, and so I do occasionally give a gasp at how time has salted my hair and how it tugs without pity on all corners of my face.

I don't mind being surprised by the slithering, skulking, treachery of my own inevitable decline. Time does what time does.  The lines on my face are not what bother me about passing time. It is the perfidious nature of the deeds of time that brings me to my knees.  Time is a shameless charlatan.

When we decided to home educate, we knew we would not miss any of the milestones - we had reserved a front row seat in each of children's lives.  Every year, Peter and I acknowledge that when we are sharing a park bench quietly, many years from now, we will never ever regret the extra time we have had with each of them.  It is why we keep doing it.  That, and the fact that it's so darn right in every way.

So, we have given our time and it has been so right.

With great clarity, I can recall the look in each of their eyes when they cracked the code and took off with reading.  The daily casual breakfasts followed by rapid-fire discussions of current events, the palpable satisfaction for an essay well-written and the relief at completing a science project - with all of these things time lures me in, allowing me to imagine that the four of them have a place in my life that will never change and that I have an unchanging place in theirs.  No.  They all have very bright futures, that's for sure, but futures where mom and dad move to the background.  While we work hard to guide and nurture, ensuring success when that moment of separation arrives, we are completely flabbergasted when it all goes well, and they walk off into the sunset.

I have not experienced anything that so thoroughly unhinges and yet is a good thing.

With John back at Penn and Nora in Eastern Europe, I am unmoored.  Floating through the days, I realize that time has played a mephitic trick on me.  I thought things would never change.  I thought that we would be ushering in every Autumn together, every Winter, Spring and Summer, too.

But time has proved me very silly indeed.

Although I am temporarily stumped, Sir Time, I do not intend to change my ways, because, in the end, I really do win.

"So teach us to number our days, that we may get a heart of wisdom."  Psalm 90:12

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A day filled with welcoming smiles .....

Today, my husband and I delivered our precious daughter to AFS Orientation staff in New York. The big smiles and open arms were such a welcome sight.   This encomiastic welcome lifted a heavy weight from our hearts and made it easier for us to walk back to our car, after the many hugs and kisses goodbye.  It's true, our daughter's chutzpah is the stuff of movies.  She has begun the venture of a lifetime!   In six months, we will go back to New York to pick her up, and in between, she is going to have an incredible new chapter of life at the foot of the Alps in Hungary at the Austrian border just 1/2 hour from Vienna.

Where she will be (and where the sun and stars will rush to meet her!)....

But that's not all.

When we got home, we took John back to UPenn to begin his sophomore year.  Again, every parent we met and every student we saw was wearing a smile from ear to ear.  Each person we met was happier than the next. At Penn, everyone knows they are lucky to be there and everyone shows it.  How much easier it is to turn around and walk back to the car when there are happy people surrounding your son or daughter!  His apartment this year might have one of the best views of any apartment in Philadelphia.

His apartment is on the very top floor  !!

The view is just stunning - a spacious 4 bedroom ... heck, I'm jealous !!

And so the day wraps up on a smile.  We said goodbye to Nora for six months and we sent our son back to college, halving our household's dependents in just 8 hours.  Again, I'm a little dizzy.  But the smiling faces we greeted along the way really did make all the difference.  

Friday, August 16, 2013

Dizzying summer.....

Summers should be restorative.  Mine rarely are.  I am so glad this season it almost over so I can merely continue the daunting job of home education while running a household.  I look forward to it like a vacation, and, well, that's just wrong, you know?

The summer (not yet over!) went like this....

At the outset, John was juggling three jobs but his "rowing" car went to car heaven in early June and he has not yet replaced it.  The challenges this lack of transportation presented to my life cannot be expressed using words appropriate for this blog (!) But, in spite of this, he held a job as a steel grinder, truck driver, welder and kept his job at Wharton Global Initiatives AND had an internship at a Russian law firm in Philadelphia.  Mercifully, this grew his bank account sufficiently to ensure that his stomach will not go empty during his sophomore year at UPenn.

Nora took a part time job at Wharton Global Initiatives, but in late June she left for Malaysia and Singapore, one of 16 hand-picked high school students in America to go!  She had an exotic and exciting time in the jungles of Malaysia and under the city lights of Singapore while doing sustainability research. (I, on the other hand, continued to teleport from Philadelphia to NJ at an alarming pace, to keep up with my other kid's lives.)

No sooner did I get her on the plane, that I had to turn around and drive Andy to Brown University where he took a pre-college program in DNA Science and Biotechnology.  He had the time of his life!  He did not want to leave, but two weeks later, I drove back to Rhode Island to get him and never missed a beat in my rocket-science, precision scheduling in service to the other busy Laberee-lings.  Before I knew it, the day arrived to head to JFK airport to pick up Nora!  Once home, Nora returned to her job at Wharton and her volunteer work at Academy of Natural Sciences.

And for a few days everyone was under the same roof.  But not for long.

Time to go back to Brown to deliver Andy to a competitive row camp and John was preparing to go to Russia for a few weeks and the paperwork needed for this transaction actually does require rocket-science.

Once I got John off for Russia, I headed back to Brown to get Andy.  Soon after Andy got back into life at Labereeland, John returned from Russia.   By this time, I had confessed to a nagging dizziness.

That brings us to the present moment.

While waiting for phone calls and texts from far-away places to get news about the safety of my brave travelers, I am sure I completed my tragic metamorphosis from brunette to grey-haired gorgon. The mirror does not lie.

The last leg ...the saddest leg of the summer....is preparing to send Nora, my rising senior, to Hungary, where she will live for six months.  This is in 4 days.

I can't post about Nora's departure yet, because I promised her I would not cry until she was up in the air.

heavy sigh....

Yes, summers are great.  But I'd much rather have September through May, than the bedlam of June through August !

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Summer Reading binge....

This 10 year old was ecstatic when he learned that his favorite Erin Hunter series, The Seekers, had a sequel!!  It is called The Seekers, Return to the Wild.  Only a Seekers book could have interrupted his new passion, The Warriors, by the same author.  So he quickly finished the second Warriors book (a series of over 20 books!) to return to where his heart is, with Toklo, a Seekers bear.

I guess we will now be toggling between the two series, and at the rate of 1 book per week, he will finish this year!

                                                   Meet the Warriors:

Meet the Seekers:

Meet the animal-loving, enchanted 10 year old: