Reflections on life, faith, family and the times we live in
... by a mom at home raising kids.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014
Some Favorite London Photos (Part 1)
Being in London was fascinating not only because I had never been there, but because we were able to see first  hand where John had lived for the last two years.



The Gold State Coach at the Royal Mews.  The tour of the Royal Mews was fascinating.  This is where the royal coaches are kept.  The one pictured below is used for coronations.

Big Ben, needless to say. :-)

Had no desire to go up in the London Eye, but it was lovely to see at night.


Big Ben at night....very beautiful..

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014
The Shard
One of the most amazing experiences I had while in London was visiting the View from the Shard.


The Shard is the tallest building in Western Europe at 87 stories.  800 feet all and designed by Renzo Piano, The Shard opened February 1, 2013 so it's a new London attraction.  You can see that it looks like an enormous shard of glass.  At the top there is a large viewing area-- all glass.

 It's a magnificent building.  Gorgeous, really.  But that is not what made my experience of it amazing.

As those of you who have read this blog for many years know, I have suffered from anxiety in the past.

While, for the most part, anxiety is no longer a problem in my life, there are still some areas where the feeling lingers.  One such area is my experience of heights.  I have been afraid of heights for many years.  I've been able to fly in spite of this fear, but in other areas I simply avoid the experience.  I don't need to be able to feel comfortable in high places so it's not something I've ever tried to overcome.

Well, imagine my reaction when my daughter announces that she and my husband have just purchased tickets for all of us to go up to the observation tower of this glass building-- The View from the Shard.

I said, "What?"  You bought a ticket for ME to go to the top of that thing?  Me?!??  How much were the tickets?"

Well, it turns out each ticket was about $50.00!!!!  My response:  "What!!!!???"

The Lord seems to be calling me to challenge my comfort zone.  I have done many things this summer that were very much a challenge.  So let me first acknowledge God's grace and His hand in this.

But on the surface it seemed that my desire to not waste all that money overcame my fear of the height, but not by much.  Frankly, I was terrified.

We took the elevator which felt like a rocket up to the first observation landing and got out.  It was a bright sunny day and the view was spectacular.  My entire body went cold.  Have you heard the expression that someone's blood has run cold?  Well, that's what it felt like.  Ice water running through my veins.  Then some wooziness and shortness of breath.  I reminded myself to just breathe.  Breathe.  Breathe slowly and mindfully.  That's as far as it went.  I enjoyed the views in spite of the sensations and in about ten minutes all those feelings left me.  This was a minor miracle.  I had never been to the top of a lighthouse, much less an 87 story building made of glass.  There was a bar up there selling champagne, a reminder to me that I am not the only one who has feelings like these.  Too bad I don't drink.  Champagne would have tasted great.  On the other hand, the victory was sweeter for having been unaided.


Me, with the "conquered" building in the background.


I actually enjoyed these views!!!






Looking up at the open sky here did make make me a little weak kneed, but not so much that I couldn't do it.

Tremendous views, tremendously empowering experience.

God is good.  All the time.

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Saturday, July 26, 2014
Trip to London!
So, yes, we did attend John's graduation in London.  And since it was his graduation, we did take our youngest two children along. (17 yo and 19 yo)  John's older brother Mike and sister Anne with her husband Zach also came to London and met us there, along with my sister and her two sons.  And since we had traveled all the way across the Atlantic, we also took four days to spend in Paris and about four days to spend in Ireland.  I'e always wanted to go to Ireland and since we were so close.....well, we just had to go.

In London we stayed at a very simple and affordable Bed & Breakfast, the Saint David's Hotel.  It was close to the tube stop as well as the bus stop.  The people running it were very helpful and kind.  And they gave me a full, hot, gluten free breakfast every morning!!  They knew about gluten.  They were careful, and I felt very confident eating their delicious breakfast.  It was a very good stay.






In London we visited the Royal Academy of Music (John's school) and attended the graduation there, of course.  The musical preludes were excellent, needless to say.  When they played "God Save the Queen" to open the ceremony my family members all looked at each other, unsure of what to do.  Do we join in?  Do we stand there rebelliously silent?  Do we sing "My Country Tis of Thee" (jk)  In the end, I think we kind of hummed along quietly.




I was quite sure that I had successfully videotaped John receiving his diploma but no such luck.  Not sure what I did wrong.

Only four of us could attend the actual graduation ceremony so Mike and I and John's two oldest siblings attended.  All the rest of the family joined us at the reception afterwards.  John's many international friends seemed impressed that he had 11 family members in London for the event.  Not sure how we even did it.




The Royal Academy of Music is a very beautiful school.  The graduation was at an old church across the street and the reception was in a lovely room at the Academy.  There was a stage at one end where John had played his master's recital and so I was able to picture the setting that had been the subject of so many of my prayers.  I had really wanted to be there.  On the stage was a magnificent organ, a gift from The Academy's most famous student who never graduated, Elton John.


Here are John and a few of his friends tossing their Grad caps in front of Elton John's gift!

More to come!!

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Thursday, July 24, 2014
Our graduation season has come to a close.  The four graduations are completed!  Here is the synopsis.

Our high school graduate....



And college graduate......



Our son with a masters.....




And our son-in-law with a doctorate....



It was quite a year.

One graduation here.  One in Dallas.  One in Atlanta.  One in London.  We HAD to go to them all, right?  I mean....they're graduations!!!!

And a high school graduation in this area means a big party for well over a hundred people, lots of year end concerts, events, etc.....

I told myself that when it was all over I was going to sleep for a week.  I haven't.  I'm just functioning in a very tired state.  Very tired.

That being said, it was a wonderful season!!  So much to be thankful for.  So much to be proud of.  So much satisfaction at seeing the results of our children's hard work.  Good stuff!!

(And BTW, those two medals around Zach's neck represent two national rugby championships.  Yes, he's quite a rugby player)

OK.  Enough bragging?  Pretty proud of these young people!!!
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Tuesday, June 17, 2014
I'm sitting in an airport while my daughter takes her first flying lesson in the air.

Yes, flying lesson.  She wants to be a pilot.  She's already taken ground school and now she's starting the actual flight training.

I'm calmer than I thought I would be.  The instructor looked EXTREMELY young but he seemed competent and professional.  I almost asked him how old he was but thankfully realized that would not be appropriate.  The older I get, the less I care about appropriateness.  Still, glad I didn't embarrass my daughter.

When she first announced she wanted to be a pilot I was very surprised and wondered where the interest came from.  Then I remembered that my husband has always been interested in planes and my father was a private pilot, having long been interested in aviation.  I guess it's in her genes.  She was always a roller coaster girl, anxiously waiting until she was tall enough for the scariest rides at Cedar Point.  I, on the other hand, get dizzy just watching those rides from the ground.

I wonder how much longer she'll be up there.  I'm going outside to watch for her......



Well, she's back.  She's on the ground and obviously had the time of her life as you can see above.  Needless to say, the instructor was flying the plane when she took these pictures.
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Thursday, June 05, 2014
Oh dear, oh dear.  I have not written here in way too long.

I've been TOO busy.  Four graduations this year in our immediate family!!  One from high school, One from college, One from grad school with a master's and one from chiropractor school with a doctorate!!  It's a very happy Spring!!

Our high school graduate.  The baby has graduated!!!

And Jim has graduated from the University of Dallas!  Want to know how much I like that school?  A lot!!!!!!!!!



Daughter Mary was able to come with us to Dallas for Jim's graduation..

And, of course, there was the graduation party for Liz!  I don't know if this is a nationwide custom but around here most people have quite a large open house for the high school graduate.  (like feeding 150, 200 people!  We do it because it's pretty customary but, just between you and me, I think it's overdone.  For heaven's sakes, it's just high school.  When one of our children graduates from college the family goes out to dinner and we buy the graduate a nice gift.  Seems backwards.)

The grad party was a huge amount of work.  I was so busy I forgot to take pictures.  And that's busy for me.  I nearly always take pictures, regardless of the occasion.  It was also a LOT of fun.

So two more graduations to go, one out of state, one out of the country.

God is good.  All the time.


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Tuesday, April 22, 2014
He is risen!!!  

We had a wonderful Easter as I hope you did too.


Easter dinner included four of my six children, and Elle, Jim's girlfriend as well.  Of course, John was not able to come home from London.  Nor could Anne and Zach make it from Atlanta.  We missed them!!  But the table was pretty full, Jim having flown in from Dallas and Mike in town from South Bend!  Not bad!



We had the annual Easter Egg hunt, even though nearly all the kids are now adults.  I give them the choice of helping to hide the eggs or hunting for them.  So far, every year they all choose to hunt them.  The gold egg is the "Alleluia Egg" and when it's found the lucky seeker is supposed to shout, "Alleluia!"


This very sought after egg usually contains, oh, twenty dollars or so.  (Occasionally I have insanely put more in there.)  Could this be the reason my grown up children still enjoy the hunt?  Hmmmm.  Liz (the youngest) found it.


Elle found the companion silver egg, which usually contains a lesser amount of money.  (Elle might have found the "Alleluia Egg" too, but I think she was holding back, not wanting to find them both.  I told her that was unnecessary and that's it's every seeker for himself....still, I think she did not want to find them both.  Actually, that's what she said.)



Starting with the magnificent Easter Vigil at Christ the King Catholic Church in Ann Arbor, it was a very Spirit-filled and blessed Easter.

Hope yours was the same!!!

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