Truly Seeing

The holidays are over and a new year is about to begin. The stress is over, or should be soon.  Relax for a minute with me.  This is merely a collection of photos from the past year with the occasional thought of what I intend to do more of in the coming one.

Friends are where it’s at-


Take time for golf, even if it’s in the median strip.  Drive your favorite car there, just so it looks like you own the joint. (I don’t golf, but there are so many carpe diem lessons here!)


There is beauty around you, even if you have to crop the photo or change your angle to see it.  Morning light is always more flattering.







TomSandcastlesHome is not a place; it’s where those you love are.

Enjoy new places, new things, and don’t worry about your clothes.  Some of the best moments of your life happen when you were willing to just do it and be there. The moment will pass far too quickly.


Take the photo, even when the camera seems to intrude.  You’ll be glad later.Butterfly2 Babies are beautiful, in whatever form they come.  All the hope and promise – ColtTree


Invest heavily, with whatever you have to give. Raelynn


Look for God’s glory in the smallest things.  Sometimes it takes a camera to truly see what you were looking at.  And too often, even then, it’s only in hindsight you see the blessings of where you’ve been.


May today be the beginning of a new life with your eyes attuned to the glories that surround all of us.


As always, my photos are copyrighted.  Please do not share them without my express permission.

Christmas, 2014

Successful 1st jump from a C-130!

Successful 1st jump from a C-130!

All in all, it’s been a successful year.  We spent last New Year’s in a communal flop on the couch, sharing a bout with the flu.  Three weeks later, we drove to Missouri for Dave’s graduation from National Guard Basic Training.  I didn’t like that I couldn’t bring him home, but he had to leave immediately for Airborne jump school.  Jon drove to Georgia for that graduation in April, which he said was pretty cool, and they roadtripped home.  Good times.

The next day, we all took off (in one car) for California. First stop was at Bob’s parents’ home, to wish his dad a happy 80th birthday. Bob had flown out alone several weeks before for the actual event, and spent some good time with his parents and sisters and their families at that time. The rest of us had to wait until our Easter trip.  The kids really enjoyed seeing their grandparents again and being in their home.  We weren’t able to stay as long as we wanted; Jon and Bob only had 8 days off work and we had 3337 miles and 2 parties to cover.  My mom and her brother share their birthday, and all my siblings were born the same month.  The goal was to get everybody into her backyard while Mom thought we’d forgotten.  Complete success!

Back row, L-R: Michael, Jon, David; Middle row: Tom, Grammy, Faith, cousin Alondra;; Front: Rachel


Uncle John, Rob, me, Barry

We spent a day at San Simeon beach where my kids could experience Pacific waves.  (My kids?  Never been in waves?  Really???)  Jon and Dave are swiftwater rescue swimmers, so they donned their wetsuits and dove in to figure out the currents.  The rest of us played with the waves and built sandcastles, or hiked the hillsides with Uncle Barry. Rachel said the best part was having her two uncles in the same room, so she can now tell them apart!!  It was good to have everybody together.


At San Simeon

Jon at play

Jon at play

Jon’s (22) work at Acadian Ambulance allowed him to replace his old Mountaineer with an ’09 Dodge Ram. He achieved his EMT-Basic and now works on a critical care unit.  It means overnight, 12-hour shifts, but he feels it will help him toward his goal of becoming a search & rescue helicopter pilot. He still volunteers at the fire dept, and achieved state recognition of his Firefighter III & IV.

Jon and Dave on the brush truck

Jon and Dave on the brush truck

Dave (20) returned from his winter escapade to a slow start in the season of A/C repair, but it picked up enough that, last month, he replaced the Jeep he’d bought in Cali at Easter with his own ’08 Dodge Ram.  He’s mastering the manual transmission.  He just needed reliability for the monthly National Guard drills, which equate to about 150-ish hours in 2 weeks of hot attics, PT tests and 1200 ft jumps before he gets a day off.  He volunteers with the fire dept when he has time, achieving Firefighter III this summer. He and Jon team lead the sound crew at church.

Faith (18) went to Salem, MA for a summer history vacation and time with the liberal relatives.  She visited  Concord, Lexington, Boston (the participatory Tea Party re-enactment was good!) and NYC, and toured the Empire State Bldg, the Met, Grand Central Station and Central Park, along with the new World Trade Center. Lake Winnipesauckee was her favorite.  She learned a lot about America’s beginnings and modern culture to add to her natural love of ancient world history.

Faith and Stas

Faith and Stas

In the fall, she teamed with a Ukrainian guy in Youth & Government to compete in Model UN. Faith is the only homeschooler (other than Michael) in the 400-student district, so the different perspectives they present as a team is a powerful, unexpected force in the discussions.

Michael at YG

Michael at YG

Michael (16) also competes with Y&G, in Trial Court this year.  His team of all first-timers went undefeated at the district meet, a streak they hope to continue at the state meet in January. He joined Trail Life when it began last January and has already earned several badges. The high point of his year was trekking to the top of Mt. Marcy, CO with his troop. He also began working as a handyman for a family in our church, which allows him to play with the big boys in his free time.

13,000 ft elevation with storm clouds looming



Tom (12) also works with Michael on weekends and joined Trail Life on his birthday.  He has earned his first rank and is looking forward to whatever large trip is planned for this summer.   He went for an overnight campout (in the rain) on Mustang Island and another weekend hike at Enchanted Rock.  At our church retreat, he rode the zipline.

Rachel (8) is becoming quite the cook, always at the side of whoever’s in the kitchen, measuring, sifting, stirring or washing.  Her best times are when going out to lunch or on errands with Jon or Dave in a truck.  She was blessed this year when a new family joined our church and brought with them a best friend.  She and Maria are almost inseparable, and have developed a great little group of friends.  Her high point was when Jon and his friend Zach took her and Maria canoeing and spiders appeared in the boat.  I’m sure the boys had fun with two screaming little girls in a canoe!

Rachel, in pink, with her friends

Friends Helen and Maria with Rachel

Bob spent a lot more time with the family this year and also rode the zipline with the boys at the church retreat.  He still works at Vargo and volunteers with the fire dept’s swiftwater rescue team.

Swiftwater rescue recertification

Swiftwater Advanced Recertification

I am studying Naturopathy in preparation for the quickly approaching years when I will no longer be necessary for daily homeschool lessons.  I volunteer with Youth & Government as a counselor at their competitions and have enjoyed the addition to our home of a friend’s toddler several days a week. We haven’t mixed toddlers and school for a few years now; it’s more challenging than I’d remembered.  She brings a bright light to our week.

Faith in class

Faith in class

Merry Christmas to all our friends and family, and best wishes for a healthy, prosperous 2015!   – The Elving Family