Friday, June 29, 2012

Belle Isle Sur Risle

Exhausted from three long days in Paris, and a harrowing exit from that beautiful but busy city, we arrived at an oasis on Thursday afternoon. Earlier, Jessica had found the driving directions and saved them to a document, as internet cannot be counted on in Europe, we've learned!

We had a stressful hour escaping Paris, but once on the "freeway" it was truly smooth sailing, although all were a bit cranky from a skipped lunch and getting out of town.  David managed to get into the groove with our car, a cute but very cramped Mercedes! (The first nightmare was attempting to get our luggage stowed.  The trunk was not large enough for all of our suitcases, so the girls will be sharing the back seat with one.  At least it is a barrier!)

After taking the exit in our directions, we passed what appeared to be a boarded up town, and I was hoping that this hotel would be better than our surroundings.  Suddenly, an old sign pointed the way off the "main" road.  I use that word loosely, as there is barely enough room for two cars to pass each other. We parked and looked at the side view of our Belle Isle Sur Risle Hotel building.

This is the front view.  

 a small portion of the parlour . . .

We were given two keys, and rooms at the top of the first landing, with a tiny hallway between.  The girls room faces out from the side, and ours faces a wide expanse of lawn leading down to one portion of the river that surrounds this little oasis!

Jess sitting in the wide open casement, catching the breeze!

The bath . . . luxurious, with complementary slippers and bathrobes, along with the usual amenities.

We were starving, so we got back in the car and headed for the town proper of Pont-Audemer. It was after 2:30, and we soon discovered when asking, that most restaurants were closed until 7:30 PM.  Luckily for us, there was a pub across the way and he offered us a bit of bread, ham and cheese. 

Ham and cheese, French style! Yes, the cheese is melted on top!  It's quite yummy!
Teeny, tiny streets.  This was pedestrian only.
Gorgeous flowers in pots all along the canal, on both sides.
 Ooh la la . . . for dinner tonight!
 One of many passage ways, not sure if they are called ginnels in France?  Anyone know??
 Restaurant built in 1664
Another sign for a restaurant. After a leisurely walk about town, we returned to the hotel.  David rested while the girls and I took our cameras to explore the property.

One of many, many flowering bushes.  Many looked similar to roses, in red, pink and white.
This propped up tree was just one of several that were very interesting.
Jessica took this photo of us during our stroll.

This photo doesn't really do them justice, but the rocks in France are so cool.  Jess and I have collected several from various locations, and many are agate-like.  I found a perfectly round one, that I am sure is beautiful inside, but I like it's shape.  This rock is everywhere.  Larger ones surround flower beds and line walkways, but these small ones are what boring gravel is in our home town!

I love these ancient buildings and roofs!  This one is growing a mohawk.

Looking up through the tree canopy.

This is the spa.  We didn't have time to make reservations for a massage, 
but it sure would have been nice if we had.

It was a lovely interlude, in the midst of what have seemed like very long days.  If I had known what a treat it was, I would have booked two nights!  As it was, we headed out for Caen, taking a route that wove through dozens of tiny villages, and along the beaches of Normandy. I snapped photos frequently and will share that adventure another day, as it is getting late.  

Au revoir

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Paris - The City of Lines

Lines, lines, everywhere are lines!

You were expecting perhaps . . .  Versailles? Or maybe Notre Dame?  Oh yes, there were lines in those places, but our first line was waiting for a taxi to our motel after arriving in Paris, for over an hour!  I didn't think to take a photo earlier, when the line was still inside the rail station.  This is on the "home stretch" when we had managed to get from the inside, to the outside, then up one side of the covered walkway (we estimate about 40 yards long) and finally, down to the waiting taxis! The ride was about 20 minutes, and I have no idea if that was the long way or the short way, but at least we were back to driving on the right side of the road!

Chilling in the London hotel room
London was, well, London.  It was pretty fantastic, except for the hotel room, which was minuscule! The photo doesn't really do it justice, as there was about six inches between the end of the bed and the wall, half of which was a sliding door into a bathroom with the skinniest tub I've ever seen. The other half was an in-the-wall cubby, quite inconveniently located,  holding an electric tea kettle with instant decafe coffee and tea!

Breakfast, however, was quite good, and very hearty!  Much needed, as touring London took huge amounts of energy!  Westminster Abbey was breathtaking, and of course Buckingham Palace grand. But, my favorite photos are not the expected, so here are a few!
This business discourages loitering . . . recommended that you don't sit here!

This is what surrounds Buckingham Palace.  Serious looking spikes, under barbed wire fencing! 

 I absolutely loved London!  The people were so apologetic: "So sorry!" if someone bumped into you, and "Mind the gap" as a warning when stepping from the train.  Nearly every sentence seemed to be asked as a question, as if they really cared what you thought! The hotel wait staff bent over backwards to attend to our every desire when dining at breakfast. You almost forgave them for their outrageous prices! I was a little sad to leave England and catch the train for Paris.

Paris . . . the city of lines.  I know, it's also the city of lights, and the city of love, but mostly, it's no matter what you are doing.  The only place we didn't wait in a line today was the Louvre . . . and that's because it was closed!  We plan to get an early start tomorrow.  We visited Notre Dame today, and attempted to view Musee d'Orsay, but the lines were incredibly long, or so we thought.  Instead we boarded the train for Versailles, and realized we didn't really know what long lines were! We waited well over an hour, but, it was unbelievably opulent, almost over the top by the time we had finished viewing.

We also spent about 30 minutes in line, waiting to use a "free" street toilet.  I'd had two cups of exceptionally good coffee at breakfast, and restrooms are not easy to come by in Paris.  
 Nick, Kailyn and David, waiting for me, as I wait my turn for the "free" street toilet.
 There were only four or five people ahead of me, but the system went like this: when occupied, you wait.  When a person exited, then it automatically "cleaned" itself by spraying water inside, and drying (supposedly) and of course, you waited for it to sanitize itself.  Then the light would turn blue, and you could push the button to open the door. My only consolation was that after I finished, there were about ten more people in line, many asking why it was so slow, and I got to "explain" the system to them!
A small portion of the line waiting to enter Versailles . . . multiply by, oh, about 10, or maybe 20!

Today was another eight mile day, and it seems like half of those miles were steps up and down to enter and change the metro trains. Both London and Paris have the trains down to a science.  They were a fast, really fast, way to get around the city, and not that difficult to figure out.  I don't think we waited more than five minutes for a train to any of our destinations since arriving in Europe. Due to the long train ride, and losing an hour, I only logged three miles yesterday.  We have one more full day in Paris, and plan to meet with Nick's parents for dinner. (Nick and Kailyn have helped us immensely to figure out trains and basically navigate our way around Paris.)   On Thursday, we take our lives in our own hands and are renting a car for a Normandy road tour, four days of David behind the wheel, and three women telling him where to go! I'm sure he can hardly wait!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Making the Rounds in Manchester

We dragged ourselves back to the rail station in Liverpool around 2 pm on Wednesday for our return to Manchester so we could check in to the motel and take naps!  I had planned earlier to meet with Chrissy, who writes Mancunian Wave.  I met Chrissy through her blog about Manchester, and she graciously sent me a packet of information and agreed to meet us at our motel our first night. But, after the longest day and a half in my life (3:15 am pick up for the airport Tuesday, minimal sleep on the plane and a draining 5 hour layover in Newark . . . and then a train to Liverpool and back with almost continuous walking for about three hours while there . . .  I wasn't sure I could stay awake!

However, we all showered and napped and surprisingly, felt 110% better by 5:30, so I called Chrissy to see if she was still planning to meet us.  She was on her way!

We met in the hotel lobby and spent the next several hours getting to know each other, having dinner at a fabulous Italian restaurant and exploring Manchester.  David and Jess gave up after dinner and returned to the hotel, but Kailyn and I continued with Chrissy, who was a wealth of knowledge about the town and took us to all the cool places to see.
Me with my special blogging friend and tour guide extraordinaire, Chrissy!

The Hanging Bridge Chambers, a very cool building. 

Manchester Fire Station; it was amazingly large for such a small town!

A huge wall map in Pickadilly Station. 

Cobblestone street!

One of several old exchange buildings

A ginnel . . . meaning a passageway between two buildings! Chrissy said the umbrellas are to poke fun at Manchester, which is known for rainy weather.  We had gorgeous weather on Wednesday, but it rained Thursday and Friday!

The Royal Exchange . . . I think I recall that this one was where the stock exchange happened.  There was a huge chalkboard high up on a wall inside, with the prices from the last time (years ago) when it was used.  The light was poor inside so we didn't take photos. :(

Between Kailyn and I we took dozens of photos, but I can't remember what all the buildings were called.  My brain is so full right now, and my body is so tired, that I will close shortly.

Our first day in Manchester was beyond my wildest dreams for seeing "old stuff".  The architecture took my breath away.  The history of this town that was big in the industrial age, and how much of it remains, was impressive.

I am already way behind on blogging our adventures and may attempt to bundle a couple days together tomorrow morning.  We spent the next day in Chester, another ancient, well cared for and fabulous town. We boarded the train to London on Friday morning, then took another train to Cambridge, which was stunning! Today I wore my pedometer and logged 8.3 miles of walking and stairs as we explored London! It was ice pack time after dinner, and now it's time for bed. I need to download the past two days pictures before I can go on!

Until next time, providing the wifi keeps functioning!  For some reason I can blog, but I can't check email!

The Babbitt's Abroad

 We are attempting to acclimate ourselves to English culture!  I could listen to people talk all day long (oh, I have been!).  We're getting used to "electricity cards" once we figured them out at the first hotel! We knew the outlets would be different and brought adapters, but didn't realize there is an "on and off" switch as well.  There are no ice buckets in the rooms, or brewed coffee.  I've had to go to the bar (actually, I sent Kailyn) every night to get ice in order to ice my knee . . . which has been screaming due to the miles and miles we're walking every day!  But, how can we just hole up in the motel??

Our arrival in Manchester England was stressful.  We were to meet the girls at the airport in baggage, but they hadn't arrived after quite awhile, so we began looking for them.  There were three terminals; we landed in Terminal 2, and after some searching for signs, we spoke to an employee to discover that the girls would have landed in Terminal 3.  "It's a bit of a walk, but you head this direction (pointing down a hallway)."

After dragging my heavy suitcase, carrying my red bag and loaded with my backpack, I was seriously complaining after 20 minutes or so and just signs with no hint of how far away Terminal 3 was.  Everyone else seemed to be coming from somewhere, towards us, so we thought we were probably on the right track, but who knew?  Finally, we came to an elevator, which told us the terminal was below. (or maybe it was above, I can't honestly remember!)  We got in the elevator and when the doors opened, there were the girls! It was a joyful reunion shortened by my keen desire to get out of the Manchester Airport.

I had originally expected we would take a transporter bus into the town of Manchester, (about 8 miles), but when we asked, there wasn't one.  Our only hope was a taxi, which we ordered for 28 pounds, then proceeded "straight out that way" to find number 16.  Shortly we were told by number 26 that an error was made, and that he was our driver.  We crammed our four suitcases and bodies and multiple backpacks into a taxi about the size of a VW bug and away we went, quickly I might add.

As it was only about 9:30 in the morning, we couldn't check in to the MacDonald Hotel, but we were allowed to leave our bags and backpacks.  We were merely steps from Pickadilly train station, so we decided to find out if we could visit Liverpool.

We validated our Britrail passes (which turned out to be a fantastic way to see that part of England) and the courteous rail employee asked where we thought we might visit and found us the proper train tables.  In moments we were on our way to Liverpool!

We alighted from the train and purchased a map of Liverpool for one pound, and discovered the train station was a bit of a walk to many of the sights we hoped to see. We found the Cavern, and a young man offered to take our picture.

This was the original Cavern Club from early Beatles era, and after numerous steps down, David & I gave up and returned to the top.  The girls continued to the bottom.  It was dark, dank and they didn't choose to stay!  There is a "new" Cavern that is much different than where the Beatles got their start, and much more appealing to the masses!

We took hundreds of pictures, but wifi is super slow this morning (an improvement from non-existent previously!) so I'm going to stop now.  It's time to go find breakfast!

Saturday, June 16, 2012


I have been catching up on some of my reading here and there today, and as I read many posts honoring Dads I felt I had to write a bit about my own.

Mom, me and my dad, probably 1951. I recognize the lace work on my grandmother's couch, so it must be at their place.  No idea what everyone is so excited about!

My Daddy has always been bigger than life to me.  He was a little scary when I was a little kid.  He sometimes yelled, and believed in "spare the rod and spoil the child".  I wasn't spoiled.  But, he also really liked to have fun.  So, I remember lots of parties with several of my parents friends growing up.  Everyone would gather at someone's house, including all the kids, and while the parents drank and played cards, the kids ran wild.  We played outside on hot summer nights, long past dark, until one of the parents would notice we were all missing and someone would come looking for us.  Our favorite party place was what I considered way out in the country at Uncle Kenny and Aunt Mary's. I was practically grown before I realized they weren't related to us, but were my folks best friends from high school. Uncle Kenny had 40 acres, and was a logger.  He had a huge old logging truck that us kids climbed all over.  They had a big old barn, full of hay, mice and the best rope swing in the world.  There was always a barn cat having kittens it seemed, and we cuddled them and played with them until, inevitably, Uncle Kenny found them.  His solution to being overrun with cats was to put those sweet babies in a gunny sack and drown them in the creek.  I guess no one considered having the barn cats spayed. 

Kenny and my dad were best and loyal friends from the time they met until Kenny died of lung cancer, about 12 or 13 years ago. In fact, my dad has stayed friends with most of the guys he went to school with.  Every month, whoever is around meets at a bagel shop downtown and they reminisce.  He keeps all his friends for life, but he's buried a lot of them. 

When I was nine, my mom died suddenly of a brain aneurysm.  My dad was home on vacation that day, building a rock wall out front.  When my three-year-old brother came running out of the house crying that mamma needs him, Dad rushed into the house to find my mom unable to respond.  There was no 911 in those days, so he carried her to the car, and I guess a neighbor came out and took my brother. 

Dad did the first thing that came to mind and drove mom to her doctor, and from there an ambulance took her to the hospital.  She never came home, and my dad fell apart. He didn't know how to live without my mom.  He withdrew from all of us, and found a series of live in housekeepers to keep an eye on his three kids.  (I never knew why we went through three of them in less than nine months, but we did. ) I have only pieces of memory from that first year without my mom, and hardly remember my dad being home at all.  I don't remember dinner, or school, or who my friends were.  I do remember my dad waking me up about 4:30 every morning to go sleep in his room with my little brother, as David would sob uncontrollably when my dad left, and I was to console him.  I don't remember if I did or not.  

My mom died on September 15, and by June my dad had already had a couple of girlfriends.  One we liked.  She was older, and had kids that were older, but they were fun and had a neat cabin in Grays Harbor that we enjoyed going to.  But, Dad met someone who I guess swept him off his feet because before we knew what happened, we were moved into her house and they were married. I was ten and a half, and for my siblings and I,  life was to become a living hell.  

Our new stepmom was insane.  She was all nice in public and crazy when it was just her and us kids.  She kept us in the basement (which wasn't finished and spooky as all get out!) when she wasn't locking us out of the house.  Before long, we had another baby brother, (took me years to figure out the timing!) and suddenly, she treated me better, as I was the perfect age for learning childcare.  I think I changed more diapers, and fed him more bottles, than she did.  My little sister and brother were still banished to the basement.

Somehow, life kept going.  Once in awhile, we got to go spend the night with one of our grandparents.  Sometimes it was our mom's mom, the sweetest woman who ever walked the earth. I remember that we got a bath at her house, and she would wash my sister's and my hair with Breck shampoo and set it in pin curls for church on Sunday.  Now, most people wouldn't consider that a good memory, but remembering the feel her loving and gentle hands combing through my long hair, and caressing  the side of my face brings tears to my eyes, even now. 

We also got to stay with my dad's folks some weekends.  On those Saturdays we piled in their old woody station wagon and headed for Portland to my Uncle Sol's store for groceries.  We always got ice cream bars, and would get to pick a toy to bring home. Grandma and Grandpa had a great Craftsman home with a full basement, complete with a grand piano (a sweet story for another time) and a slant roofed upstairs with oodles of antiques. My cousins and I tore apart an old typewriter one time that was up there, never in a million years thinking it was a treasure and nearly got the living daylights whipped out of us!  When I learned as an adult that it belonged to my great grandmother, who wrote volumes on it, and later published her own newspaper in the 1930's, I was too late, sadly remorseful.  (Fortunately, I have many of her original stories and articles, no doubt typed on that very typewriter, so I feel a little better!)

In the meantime, life went on and on.  I started junior high, mortified when I was forced to wear the same outfit the entire week, as well as nylons that were snagged and had runs.  On top of that, my stepmom started telling me not to ever  be alone with my dad, as he might "do bad things to me".  I wasn't sure what she was talking about, but it was enough to scare me.  I stayed out of his way, which wasn't too hard.  He was still leaving for work around 4:30, and getting home about 5:30.  He was, in his own words, "Just a worn out bread man" who drove to Portland, loaded his bread truck, drove a route that was hours long to dinky little towns an hour or more out, then back to the bakery, unloaded his truck, did his route book, and fought the traffic back across the bridge to Washington.  Once he was home, my stepmom insisted on them going square dancing, nearly every night.  We had babysitters (my step mom's nieces) more for the baby's sake than my sister, brother and I.

One day my dad asked me to come outside with him and help him repair the fence.  I didn't want to do it.  When he started asking me questions about what happened when he was at work, I didn't want to answer.  Eventually, I broke down and told him some of what was going on.  I can't remember all the details, but later we were all at my grandparents house, and there was a huge fight.  I guess my grandparents had noticed how us kids were changing, and I think that's probably what prompted my dad to talk to me.  (I should say that when he was home, our stepmom acted "normal".  She fixed dinner, we were allowed to be upstairs to watch TV, so it took awhile for my dad to start noticing anything unusual.) 

Also at this time, the principal at the grade school (who was our old neighbor, in fact, his wife was my girl scout leader when my mom was alive) was noticing my little brother, by then in first grade, acting sort of traumatized.  He would hang onto his teacher, not wanting to go home.

Anyway, things got pretty ugly and one night dad came downstairs (where my sister and I had bedrooms that were sort of finished by then) and woke us up.  He told us to grab what we needed, we were leaving.  And, to make this long story much shorter, we got our daddy back.

He was a man determined to make up for lost time.  As an adult I learned how much he regretted his behavior, and he has shed quite a few tears with us over the years.  We all forgave him, sheesh, we've all had some rough stuff to get through.  

The dad I remember after he left our stepmom (and ultimately his youngest son) was vastly different. We went on many trips to the beach, with the radio blaring and my dad singing along to the Beatles songs of 1964.  He renewed his many friendships (given up during his marriage to the wicked witch of the northwest).  We moved back into the house we had lived in when our mom was alive. (That wasn't so great.  It made us all miss our mom so much, she was everywhere, but nowhere.)  On Valentine's Day, our dad went on a blind date and met June.  She had three kids, the same ages as us kids.  He had just bought a brand new 1965 Volkswagon Bug, and boy did we get the stares when all eight of us would crawl out of that thing at McDonald's. We were a real live Brady Bunch and they got married on Father's Day, 1965. 

We sold our house, June sold her house, and they bought a rambling six bedroom house out in the country (at least at that time!) surrounded by strawberry and raspberry fields.  We were a family, in the truest sense of the word.  Our summers were spent on crazy road trips to visit relatives all over, dragging first the Bug (as a camping trailer full of our stuff) and later a tent trailer behind a 1966 VW bus.  It was chaos, crazy, noisy, with furious arguments and tearful hugs.  We never had a lot of money, but we were pretty happy.  June was a perfect mom, alternately loving and irritating.  

Tomorrow we'll gather at my brothers for our traditional Father's Day celebration.  We'll eat too much, reminisce, laugh uncontrollably as we tell the same old stories and our spouses roll their eyes.  We'll think about mom, who we always thought of as the glue that held us together, and who has been gone now from Alzheimers since 1996.  

My dad has outlived his two great loves, with a four year nightmare in between.  He's been a darn good dad, and we have discovered that he is our glue that holds us together. Each time I see him I always fleetingly wonder, "Will this be the last time?" But, I don't dwell on it.  He's my daddy, and I appreciate every moment I am able to spend with him.  
Me and my Daddy, 2011
He's 84, but in pretty good shape for an old bread man. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Summer Explosion!

It's June, and there has been an explosion within the walls of the Babbitt home.  I'd take pictures, but it's mortifying!  

It all started last weekend.  David and I drove  to Ellensburg on Friday to attend Nick's last Jazz concert, which was fabulous and well worth the harrowing drive over via highway 12, which I don't recommend if you're in a hurry to travel east!  David was driving "like a teenager" and got us there in record time, 3 hours and 45 minutes.  I was alternately gritting my teeth or loudly complaining.  (Anyone who knows my husband knows him as a pretty laid back guy.  He isn't typically a fast driver!) But, I didn't get out of my doctor appointment until 3 pm, and the concert began at 7 pm.  We were pretty sure we were going to be late arriving as it's a 4 hour (and 2 minute) drive according to Google Maps!

But, Kailyn was waiting for us with our tickets and we arrived in the "nick" of time.  Nick's parents were there, so we all visited with one another between sets and made plans to meet in Paris for dinner on our last night there in June!

On Saturday, Nick drove us to a wonderful scenic area.
Clever sign telling us that "No Vehicles" are allowed!

We hiked for awhile,
David, Kailyn and Nick
Glorious sunny morning!
. . . then treated the kids to lunch and picked up a few boxes of Kailyn's to bring home with us. 

We headed in a northwesterly direction for our next stop on the whirlwind weekend, Bellingham.  David drove mostly sedately, yet we still arrived about 15 minutes ahead of the time quoted on Google Maps . . . less than three hours after leaving Ellensburg.  Traffic must have been light.  I was furiously working on grades for report cards so I have no idea what was happening outside the van!

After checking into our motel, we drove over to my aunt and uncle's home. My uncle is my dad's half brother, and only a few years older than I am.  My "aunt" is actually five months younger than I am, and we rediscovered each other about 18 years ago at a family reunion.  Typically, we manage to see each other a couple times a year, but it had been well over a year since the last visit, so we had some catching up to do.  We enjoyed several hours with them, and retired to our motel around 10 pm.

The next morning, we were surprised by a phone call from Jess about 8:30, letting us know she was up and ready for breakfast!  As she had numerous "Good Bye" parties the night before, we were surprised by the early call!  

Neither of us had been to her most recent residence, so we broke out the iPad and Google Maps, then drove straight over. (I just love that bouncing blue ball!)

Jess in front of "The Convent" a well known house rented by Western college girls.  Her room is on the left, what was originally the parlor.  The fireplace is no longer functioning, but the built in book shelves were cool.  I loved the windows and all the little nooks and crannies in this house.  I didn't take photos though, as it was wall to wall with six college girl's belongings!

We drove Jessica's car over to Arlisses Cafe for a delicious breakfast, then returned her and retrieved our very loaded van to begin the last link of our journey, homeward bound.  I looked at David as we pulled away from Bellingham and said, "Babbitt's Moving and Storage . . . here we go again!"

View looking back from the passenger seat!

Again, the traveling was smooth and easy, and we arrived home late afternoon, weary, but knowing we needed to unload before we could relax and set to it.  Finally, we were able to manhandle the seats back into the van. We called it a night and went to bed exhausted!

Sometime in the middle of the night, Jessica must have arrived home, with all that was left of her worldly possessions.  I could tell she was home by the trail leading from the front door of the house.  But, she surprised me at school on Monday, showing up while I was in the computer lab with the kids, and she spent part of every day this past week with us.  With her able assistance, we managed to get all of our last minute projects completed and have the room ready for "Pride Night" on Thursday. My usual end of the year exhaustion caught up with me early and I had a sore throat begin that afternoon.  I was doubly grateful for her generous gift of time in the classroom, and she helped organize, sort and put away books on Friday afternoon while I worked on report cards. 

Last night Kailyn and Nick arrived, and moved the rest of her belongings into the garage and her bedroom.  I haven't been out to the garage because I am afraid of what I will find!  Somehow, I hope to return my van to it's rightful spot in the garage before we leave a week from next Tuesday for Europe.  

Today, the girls will be frantically doing laundry, and packing for their dream trip to France.  Nick's flight is about six hours ahead of theirs, and he will meet them at the airport when they arrive in Paris. David will drop them at the Portland airport tomorrow morning, and we'll catch up with them in Manchester, England on June 20.

I have one more week of school to get through, but I'm in good shape.  I've been sorting and recycling and giving away for several weeks, and I think I will be able to check out on Friday afternoon.  I've written my little "Promotion" speech, and already shed a few tears as I contemplate saying "Good Bye" to this year's class.  Each one stands out for something; every year I remember something unique about the little group that becomes my "day family".  This year, the word that comes to mind is "companionable".  These kids got along so well together!  It was a rare day when someone hurt someone else's feelings.  They never complained about working with a partner, no matter who they were partnered with, and helped each other succeed in so many ways.  It was by far the most harmonious class I've ever had, and I will miss them. 

Next Tuesday I have been invited to attend the graduation of the first class I taught.  They were second graders then, and while the year was truly a trial by fire, I've stayed in touch with many of the families, and frequently the kids.  I received six graduation announcements, two tickets to graduation, and several party invitations, but ended up being sick this weekend, so I was unable to attend most of the parties, which made me very sad!

I will attend the graduation, and I know I'll be remembering these accomplished young people as second graders. And, one more time, be grateful for the opportunity to make a difference in their lives.

After spending the past two hours putting this post together, I am reminded of why I haven't been writing much lately!  I just can't seem to find the time!  I apologize for not keeping up with blogs, and I know I'm missing out.  Sadly, I don't see life slowing down until after we are home from vacation in July.  I will be taking lots of photos, and will maybe learn how to load them onto the iPad. (I bought the adapter I needed, but I haven't tried to use it yet! And my in-house tech support team will be gone tomorrow!)

Happy June to everyone!  I'll be catching up when I'm able!