Sunday, July 17, 2011

End of School Year-ness

First of all let me just say "The good things are always the hardest things". I love, love, love this saying, or should I word it, "this reminder". Let's just say it had been a gnarly school year for sure, but it had also been a good one. This was my first year teaching two highschoolers....and all that (((THAT))) truly in tales. April, May and  June had been a check list of sorts. The song of our lives sounded something like "that's done", "okay now this over here is done", "Imma release that""it's time to close that chapter" etc, etc, mas infeno!

On a side note & just for giggles, I want point out here that when I wrote "highschoolers", spell check told me my spelling was wrong. Wanna know what their suggestion was? It was assumed  "preschoolers" was the word I was looking for.


Seriously though both of my boys grew physically, spiritually and academically. Growing pains hurt, for everyone.

While we were busy finishing up our last days of school at home, each outside thing (as we refer to any class/activity taken outside of our home) were slowly trickling to an end as well. This is the part of the blog where I tell you WHAT WE'D BEEN DOING ALL THAT TIME!

Let's Start with the basics:

Ricky finished his first year of Highschool well. He worked hard and accomplished much. He is already looking forward to starting Drivers Ed/Training next year!

This has been a year of growing for Ricky. He went from shopping in the boys section to shopping in the Men's sizes bigger than Jeff or Billy. He is way taller than me, of course. We are sure before summers end he will be taller than Jeff! Heck, that may happen even before the month's end! Oh, and his voice, he has an incredibly deep voice. I mean really deep.

Ricky did awesome in Scouts this year! He had to change uniforms twice because he grew so, so much! Thanks to Granny for resewing patches! He looks forward to advancing in rank next year as he progressively makes his way to Eagle. He is also super pumped to be joining the Explorers Program! He had a wonderful time at the first training day he went to. All of this is such a part of who he is!

Ricky is still madly in love with singing. He never smiles bigger than a day spent singing! He has finished with both the community choir & the church choir for the year. However that's not saying much because it starts back up in three weeks. Even though one group only ended a week ago he is super pumped to get back at it!

Billy finished his Jr Year of Highschool. He is filled with excitement at the thought of being a Sr!

Billy also finished his first year as a part time college student, in Fresno City Colleges immersion program as an "A" student!! He told me that for the most part his classes were easier than things I taught him here at home, which was odd to hear. For those of you who are curious we didn't have any real problems setting him up as a life long homeschooled child in a Jr College. He tested in great & they glanced VERY quickly at his transcripts. The end. He was in the Latin/Jazz band, which counted as one of the two classes he was eligible to participate in each semester. Billy isn't fond of this particular variety of music, but it's a foot in the door so to speak. The first semester he took a computer class, the second a writing class. When I said "we didn't have any real problems", I was insinuating we did have a slight hiccup. That was in regards to the writing class. You see I had looked through the catalog with the knowledge of his academic experience thus far in my mind. I knew what he needed for filling in gaps. I knew what he was eligible to take ACCORDING TO THEIR TESTS. So it was totally lame to have to push for him to be placed in the class we wanted him in. The staff was worried that the class would be too difficult for him.

You know what?

After the very first assignment was turned in the teacher asked him if he wouldn't rather move up to a higher class. Grrr. Lame beginnings, but a great class non-the-less. Oh, & he is registered for Fall classes to boot!

Billy Finished the driving experience & passed  both Driving Tests the first try no problems! While he collected permit hours he traveled in rain, over mountains, while it snowed, at night, on freeways, in busy neighborhoods with little children darting about, in fog, in 5:00 traffic &  in holiday traffic, in the Bay Area. Breathe. He is a good driver. Really.

On to the Traditions:
There are signs in life that mark particular occasions. Those exist for the exodus of the school year as well. For my boys it goes like this;

CHEFA's Sqaure Dance. It is a wacky, zanny, silly, just-let-loose-laugh-and-enjoy yourself kind of night!

CHEFA's Formal...and After Party

The Vincent Family Evaluation of the School Year. This time around we took a picnic dinner to Lost Lake. It consisted of Applesauce & Raisin Biscuits with a ton of ooh so gooey, glazey frosting (Ricky) Homemade Lemon/Limeade with Strawberries & Raspberries blended in (Billy), Fava Bean Salad & Triptrip cooked in a garlic oil (Me).


The Vincent Family Congratulatory Dinner. This is where we dress nicely, go to a restaurant of the boys mutual choosing and tell them how wonderful they are. This year they chose Olive Garden. We normally present them with the badges that they've earned via the Contenders Program we utilize in our school. We had a scheduling glitch with that one though...oops!

AND. Then there's ALL the End of the School Year Parties! Which of course includes one in our very own little school. We bought the boys a few little gifts to enjoy over the summer, made a "Welcome to Summer sign (which is still hanging up) & ate yummy food. This year Ricky BBQed us his version of a BBQ sauce, bacon &  onion ring sportin' cheese burger like a local restaurant serves. Usually he makes his own onion rings, but this day he didn't have the time, so he used frozen. We ended our night at YoDiggity.

Annnd..... then there was the steady stream of  the Graduations, and ALL the Graduation parties! Parties, parties, parties  galore. I tell you man, it was a jungle out there! I'm talkin' College, High School, Jr High & even cute little Kindergarteners.

As you can see we'd been tying up loose ends with the curriculum side of things and wrapping up all those FUN muuuusssttt does.  Quite frankly the big shabang had all but reduced my brain to confetti. So yeah, bye now! hm-mm buh-bye! That was soooo my theme song the last month & 1/2.

Yes we do actually celebrate holidays!

Okay first of all. I know I haven't written in 300 years & then I bombard the blog with gobs of entries. So first let me explain a few things. Some of these entries have been sitting in draft for what seems like a lifetime. Written, yes, but waiting for me to upload pictures to go along with them. Some have been sitting there for so long, like this one, that the title keeps changing & the content keeps growing. I blog for two reasons, to share our lives with all you all & to mark a memory to pass down the family line. So here we go...

In April my groom & I celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary.  He wasn't available to sneak away on the actual anniversary date. However I received a bouquet of flower delivered right to our doorstep. It was custom made with daisies, because they are my favorite flowers.  Peach roses & baby's breath were added, because that's what filled my wedding bouquet. White carnations were added because that's what sweethearts exchanged when we were in high school. Yes it added to his total lovability! later that week I convinced him to play hooky from work & we slid off radar. We spent a dreamy afternoon hiking up at Pine Flat Reservoir. You should maybe see the magic for yourself someday. With all the wild flowers & green carpeted hills it is beautiful in the spring. However that's not why were there. I don't know about you, but I have yet to meet a couple who didn't need to press restart on their marriage. We did, presumably you did too. Pine Flat is where we did just that many, many years ago. It's basically a memorial for us.

But wait there's more in April ... Easter & Ricky's Birthday...on the same day. First things first. What did we do about Ricky? Since both boys were gone the whole week before Easter on a local missions trip we decided not to try and fit in a party this year. Ricky is growing up, but he is still tender to tradition. I had to think out-of-the-box. We decided to ask our friends from Give Me Some Sugah to make him up a gift basket. If you follow the link you can see what they made for him. We had this delivered during choir practice as close to his birthday as possible. All his classmates sang him happy birthday. This was the closest we could get to an actual event to let him know he is special to us.

We have a tradition of waking up our kids singing them the birthday song. The Shugert family called earlier than we had anticipated waking Ricky up, to say happy birthday. So while he was yet sleeping, with the speaker phone on, they sang to him! Very cool way to wake up! Even though we had Easter to attend the day of his birthday we still busted out the photo albums to reminiscence Ricky's life, such as when he would make bows & arrows from bamboo growing in the backyard. I hold the last 14 years close to my heart.

Speaking of Easter. My Mother in Law hosts a thoughtful meal. My Grandparents played a big role in my growing up years. That fact that my Grandfather was Armenian was evident in our meals. My Mother in Law tries to include some of those foods on Easter for my sake. That is very thoughtful indeed. We had a great day full of good conversation & lots of yummy food. They also had a small time of recognizing Ricky's day.

May brought us Mothers Day & Billy's Birthday....on the same day! Yes that again. It's neat, but also a pain to schedule events. We decided on no party for Billy either. Since we didn't have outside family to add to the mix Billy & I busied ourselves via the internet scoping California for some fun activity, we hadn't already done. We decided on visiting Solvang. Ever been? Such a cute Scandinavian village! We had so much fun. We got our Danish pastries on at Olsens's Danish Village Bakery eating almond rings, kringles & tarts. We went to Ingeborg's Chocolates where we had some chocolate covered honeycombs & marzipan goodies. We had aebleskiver, frikadellar, medisterpolse & rodkaal among other unnameables at a smorgaasbord restaurant (is that redundant? I wonder?)  called The Red Viking.

We didn't just eat. However maybe it's a good thing we rented a surrey to tour the town in. It's called pedal off the snacks as you munch, munch, munch! After we felt like we'd shopped & ate our way through downtown Solvang we hopped in the car & went critter searching. We went to Pacific Breeze Alpaca Farm, Ostrich Land Ostrich Farm, Quicksilver Miniature Horse Ranch & Seein' Spots Miniature Donkeys & Mules Rescue. On the way home we stopped at Oceano Dunes to watch the waves & birds as we ate our picnic dinner.

Later that week we celebrated the gift of Billy's previous 16 years life with dinner at the in laws. The next day Billy & Ricky took the money they got from both sets of Grandparents, us & money they had earned along the way to the store. They bought themselves a movie, a few video games & a new 360 game system.

The In Laws hosted a Family Reunion at the end of May. Lots of good food & fellowship. It's always a pleasure to see extended family, to show my sons their "people". My Mother in Law is a genealogy buff. So it is at times like this that she really sparkles. She has binders full of information on each section of the family line complete with photos & news paper articles. She says something to the effect of "if you don't want your family to know about your life choices, make sure you don't get published, cuz I will put it in here" Anyway people pretty much sat around visiting, looking at photo albums & her binders. Holidays in this family usually lead to a long walk after eating a large meal. Those who chose to do so on this day in late May got rained on. Just another testament to this years odd weather patterns.

On to June for my birthday we went to Manresa Beach.  We brought the cast iron dutch oven & had a beach bonfire! Jeff  made us fillet sandwiches with a buckaroo sauce for lunch. Billy made us another version of lemonade. This version had blender-ized fruit that had been frozen into ice cubes & popped into a thermos with the juice. Ricky made us a chocolate cake that had coke & mini marshmallows in the batter (I know, but trust me it was delish!). Then we all went for a shell collecting walk. After that Jeff & Ricky went boogie boarding. Billy started the fire again. We made Red cabbage with potatoes, onion, apples and bacon. We played Corn Hole & Ladder Ball, so fun! Before we went home we stopped off and got some of Gilroy's famous Garlic Ice Cream. Yum!

Then of course there's Fathers Day, which played out a lot different this year. We actually celebrated Jeff & all his Dadliness the Monday before Fathers Day with a special dinner & speach. This was because the actual date had us up dark & early taking our sons to buy last minute items they forgot to tell us they needed. Then  get them to our church parking lot, while it was then bright...but still very early. They were leaving on a missions trip to Mexico. After dropping them off we went home to prepare for heading up to Millerton Lake. This is where we stayed for most of the day. We were with our great friends, the Solteros. We were together honoring the life of their oldest son who recently passed. The day ended at the In Laws where we had a celebratory dinner for both of the Jeffs (father & son).

July leads us to our latest event,  4th of July baby! Independence Day is important to this freedom loving family. Which was also played out unorthodox-like this year. The reason why, the bad news, was Ricky being on tour with our church youth choir during this holiday. That took the wind right out of my sail. BUT. I picked myself up by my imaginative boot straps & carried Bass Lake.  Yes, we missed him. For one Jeff nor Billy would sing all the crazy patriotic songs with me. Okay so maybe they aren't exactly crazy songs, maybe it's just the way we sing them. Maybe. We all texted him on the 4th. I also put a crazy tall 4th of July hat in his luggage. If you know Ricky you know two things. #1 He loves hats, the sillier the better. #2 he is a goofball. That made my momma's heart feel better, more connected to him. Know what though, there was good news on this end too. We were able to have a special day with Jeff, Billy & I setting our timers to OFF! As a result Billy ended up sharing many of the thoughts rolling around in his head. We eagerly soaked it all in. For lunch we had fettuccine alfredo with peas & prosciutto. Yes cooked lakeside, what can I say, I had a craving. We ALSO had the traditional dinner of BBQed chicken, watermelon slices, blueberries & goop, baked beans & coleslaw cooked lakeside. Oh & Billy made incredibly delish  brownies to boot! Yeah...we didn't go hungry that day. We had a wonderfully lazy day lounging around eating, reading, swimming, taking leisurely walks & just breathing in the fresh mountain air. Then of course the evening was topped off with the shimmering display of fireworks over the lake!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

My Sons

My boys are growing up on me. They are more independent with every passing year. That's as it should be, yet they are working me out of a job. I have enjoyed every stage of their lives...every age. Challenging? Sure, but also a joy.
 Let me tell you a bit about my affectionate, fun loving, bold, reckless, adventurous baby boy. Oh how he loves to sing all through the day, every day. He also loves to give big bear hugs & is full of sweet gestures. He is incredibly generous. He is supportive, loyal & kind. He is a real prince charming. He genuinely wants to help people. He is the hardest worker you will ever meet. He loves to work with his hands, he loves to tinker with things. He is an intuitive problem solver. He is willing to be anyone's ever ready sidekick, he doesn't feel the need to have the light shine on him. All of these things make him a great leader. I've always thought it neat that Ricky was born in late Spring as the trees are full of lovely fruit & grapes are heavy-hanging on the vines, they are busting full of enthusiastic life, so is he! Speaking of food, he loves to bake us up yummy treats & he really rocks the BBQ! Ricky is outgoing. He is creative. He's gentle, but he is a mans man! He is action defined! He is Mr. rough & tumble through & through! He is our bold & adventurous thrill seeker! He is our lover of outdoors & emergency preparedness is his game.  He loves all things martial arts. He loves to converse with anyone on politics, theology & weaponry. He is funny, he loves to laugh & I love to laugh with him. Oh I just adore this guy.  Ricky is always my youngest baby, yet nearly a man.

 Now let me tell you a bit about my devoted, reflective, quick witted, talented, ever eager first born son. He loves to play all things percussion, his favorite being the West African djembe. His love for circling the globe doesn't end with instruments. He's also into cooking us up exotic foods as well as trying new foods cooked by others. He's eager to travel the globe seeing artifacts & Gods creation. He loves exotic animals, whether in land or sea. His sometimes gruff seeming exterior is instantly melted by small children & the elderly, letting you see his truly gentle spirit. His intellect is visible in his writing & speaking expressions. Given enough time, he could see straight through a brick wall. His words are as smooth as butter & and as meticulously piercing as a knife. He shares his brothers love for martial arts as well as discussing politics, theology & weaponry...imagine what my living room looks like! He loves to run, it seems to free his mind & challenge him to new heights. Billy isn't always active; he stealthily watches people & he really likes just. being. together. Billy has a keen discerning eye for the finer things in life, he recognizes quality or the lack there of. When Billy creates things they are done with precision & focus. The year that Billy was born, his birthday landed on Mothers Day. Yes, that's right, he was my very first Mothers Day gift! I should've known then, it was a sign of things to come, he has never gone"the expected route".  So many circumstances made his arrival a difficult journey. Billy is my miracle, I am so grateful to have him. Billy has a deeply sarcastic, dry sense of humor &  I love it! The more he grows, the more fun it is to talk to him. Billy is morphing like a caterpillar he's coming out of his coma a new ((awesome))) creature. Billy has grown up so much this year. He has experienced many firsts such as his first job & first college classes. He received his drivers license as well. I have heard good reports back on his work ethic & I can attest to his calmingly (is that even a word?)great driving skills. I have one official year left with my oldest baby, I cherish it, I cherish him.