Year of Travel!

It’s happening.  It’s either my best idea ever or the worst thing I could possibly decide to do for a whole year.  Time will tell.www.tphblog.comStarting this June, we are returning to homeschool and traveling the world.  World school, edu-travel, travel school, ridiculousness–it goes by many names, and we are going to give it a shot.  Like, it’s official. IMG_6244

I took my sweet time deciding if I were up for it.  But I couldn’t let this unbelievable opportunity, completely amazing, pass me by.  It’s really the only year we could do it, as our oldest will be starting high school the following year (utter disbelief) and we don’t want to interrupt his high school experience.  Once I decided I could handle vomit and diarrhea in a foreign country with my three children by myself, I was in.  Pops will be joining us some, too, so I’ll have reinforcements!


It has been difficult to narrow down our destinations, but here is the working list:  Greece, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Spain, France, Germany, England, Netherlands, Quebec, NYC, Vermont, Connecticut, Washington DC, Hawaii, Beijing, California, Utah, Arizona, and somewhere in Latin America (but that’s our last trip so we’ve got time to decide).  Iceland is hard to omit.  And, India!  Australia and New Zealand were on the list for a long time but got cut due to expense.  And, there are so many fabulous spots in Asia, I just had to pick.  We are also going to do some quick trips in between: Florida for some marine biology, Ohio for Cedar Point (okay, that’s not school, unless we’re talking physics), Pennsylvania for Fallingwater, Florence, AL, and some local Georgia sites.  I miss my bed already!IMG_2389

So, I’d love to hear your recommendations on the above destinations.  Kid-friendly spots and activities?  Travel tips with kids on long plane rides and subsequent jet lag?  Fun history books with interesting stories for kids?  And French language tips or resources?  We will be taking lessons at home and abroad…I apologize in advance.


I’m so excited about this whole adventure…and so scared, too.  The planning is insane, and I’m trying to get a lot of the research done before the kids are finished with their spring semester in traditional school.  I’m also trying to finish up as many projects at the house as I can so I won’t be too distracted by the undone around me while I teach the kids.  And, by teach, I mean lots of cozied-up reading and videos.


We are going to learn lots, but it will be really relaxed.  I have enough homeschooling experience behind me now that I have confidence in my kids and myself that we can learn without meticulously doing every single workbook page.  Don’t put an artist in charge, people.IMG_8414

I’m not sure, yet, how we will document the year–how public we want to be.  I want the kids to blog but probably privately.  I might share something here every now and then.  We will write a children’s book with photos and art we make throughout the year–I’ll Shutterfly a book for ourselves unless someone wants to publish it, just putting that out there!  Hopefully I can sweet talk my husband into writing some posts on the travel deals he finds to make this all possible.  Some days I feel really ambitious, but most days I know realistically I need to take it slow and easy.


The kids are looking forward to trying candy all over the world…and desserts.  The littlest one wants to try all the sodas.  I’m so excited for them to see the world with young eyes.  Here we go!


Weekend Reading (I Was Optimistic)

I didn’t lift a one from my weekend reading stack, even with good intentions.


But I did take in some tulips.  Just a few.


I refereed some rough-n-tumble boys.


I breathed it in and whispered thank you.


I contemplated a brother swap for the mischievous little one.  He’d fit right in.


I made a note-to-self:  get some sheep, STAT.


But I positively, absolutely didn’t do any reading.

(I adore the Biltmore Estate in spring.)


A tough gang of colorful-bag-toting chicas took to the streets of Asheville this last weekend…can you Guess-A-Blogger?

guess-a-blogger1.  This is a trick question.  She’s not a blogger…but this sweet tall brunette may be my long-lost sister.

2.  She gives a mean make-up tutorial.

3.  She’s a magician who turns spoons into flowers!

4. She doesn’t leave home without C.S. Lewis.

5. Even though she’s famous and just wrote a book, she’ll take a turn sleeping on the sofa.


Did you get them right without looking?  Please let me encourage you to waste not another minute and to get together with your friends for some girl time.  I can tell you these five ladies are tops and blessed me huge with their company in the mountains this weekend.

More photos of the weekend are here at #4 and here at #3…plus they sum up beautifully the fellowship of the weekend.  They are much more eloquent than a Guess-A-Blogger game.  And, the cottage gets dittoed!

Studio Bon & 24 Hours of Girl Time

The last room to be touched in our house is the boys’ room.  It is ugly.  Even the boys complain.  I’m a little stumped because of the layout and the mismatched beds.  There have been a few false starts, but nothing major has happened.  So at the start of a girl weekend with my daughter, we stopped at ADAC to check out the Studio Bon fabrics as a possibility for her brothers’ room.


I’m really liking this direction.  Fun for boys, huh?


Then we had a little stop at Lewis & Sheron to pick up fabric for the cottage.  All the pinks got her seal of approval.


Post dinner was an early PJ party snuggled together on the bed–first, messing with Siri on my phone to belly laughs; then, we sank into our books, her, Harry Potter book 4, me, Life with Picasso.


The pace picked up after a walk to breakfast.


There was her first oil painting lesson.


Then we paused to give a group of 10 or so ladies a tour of the loft.

Hurry, jump in the car to pick up Big Red Chandy, freshly uninstalled from the Cathedral Showhouse.  It’s going in our kitchen–thanks, Ally!


Next up, the Cinderella ballet!  We fought traffic…


….and made it right to our seats when the lights went down.


With ballerina costumes still dancing in our heads, we stumbled upon this polyester and acetate wonderland to top off our day.


There is nothing to say except it was the stuff of 7-year-old girl manic-ruffle dreams.  She couldn’t dart from dress to dress fast enough.

IMG_3201 And that is how we TPH girls spend 24 hours.  (I’m so exhausted, guys!)

Queer Funny Ache of Beauty

The chickadees and I started Anne of Green Gables last week.  We like to have some leisure reading after dinner, and it’s been the perfect way for me to read all the classics I missed out on in my childhood.  Can you believe I’ve never read Anne of Green Gables?  I LOVE it!

Here is a little passage for your weekend that struck me as a familiar feeling.  Anne is riding to her new home from the orphanage with her new guardian Matthew Cuthbert.

The “Avenue” so called by the Newbridge people, was a stretch of road four or five hundred yards long, completely arched over with huge, wide-spreading apple trees, planted years ago by an eccentric old farmer.  Overhead was one long canopy of snowy fragrant bloom.  Below the boughs the air was full of purple twilight and far ahead a glimpse of painted sunset sky shone like a great rose window at the end of a cathedral aisle.

Its beauty seemed to strike the child dumb.  She leaned back in the buggy, her thin hands clasped before her, her face lifted rapturously to the white splendor above…

She came out of her reverie with a deep sigh and looked at him with the dreamy gaze of a soul that had been wandering afar, star-led.

“Oh, Mr. Cuthbert,” she whispered, “that place we came through–that white place–what was it?”

“Well now, you must mean the Avenue,” said Matthew after a few moments’ profound reflection.  ”it is a kind of pretty place.”

“Pretty?  Oh, pretty doesn’t seem the right word to use.  Nor beautiful, either.  They don’t go far enough.  Oh, it was wonderful–wonderful.  It’s the first thing I ever saw that couldn’t be improved upon by imagination.  It just satisfied me here”–she put one hand on her breast–”it made a queer funny ache and yet it was a pleasant ache.  Did you ever have an ache like that, Mr. Cuthbert?”

Yes, Anne, yes!  I have had that queer funny yet pleasant ache.  It is a familiar pang to those lovers of the wild beauty of nature.


I remember it especially this day.  It was one of those dreamy, out-of-body, otherworldly kind of days.  We encountered more goats and sheep than people as we explored this rugged Mediterranean coastline.  Isn’t the beauty of nature best marveled in the scant company of one or two?  That is what made the day so perfect.  And my eyes couldn’t register the beauty fast enough.


Mallorca, Spain

And, the ache, I know it well.

Have a beautiful weekend, everyone!  And thank you so much for the encouragement and shopping support of The Painted House Joss & Main sale…it’s the last day!

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