real encouragement for real homeschooling moms

2853.6 miles, 6 swimming pools, and 10 days-without-washing-a-single-dish later

We finally arrived home yesterday afternoon, finding my beautiful white clematis on the front fence in full bloom and our lazy tomcat rolling back and forth in the grass, his usual expression of joy when we have been gone. As all best vacations do, this one had a little something for everyone and it left us exhausted but refreshed.

We started our trip by piling three hulking sons, 3 ipods, and all the things Ben would need for the next school year somewhere in or on the car. Ben said he felt like he was sitting in a space shuttle.

That is not a duct tape coffin on the car top carrier.

Our first stop of interest was in Metropolis, Illinois, home of Superman, a place I have always wanted to visit.

Can’t you see why?

Now this guy is the REAL superman. Is there anything superer than a man who carries your groceries?

18 driving hours down the road, we managed to get Ben to his apartment and all his stuff unloaded, buy him a bed, meet his three roommates, and make a Wal-Mart run before we left. Ben is working toward a degree in sound engineering at Full Sail University in Orlando, which is considered to be the #1 sound recording school in the world. His three roommates are all film majors and are also Christians. A couple weeks ago, the mom of one of the guys called Ben to see if he knows how to cook. Since Ramen, mac and cheese, scrambled eggs, and panini count, he said yes. I didn’t cry this time when I left him. The scene of those four boys in an apartment full of sound equipment, instruments, and no real furniture except beds and Ben’s desk made from wood and industrial Strut was too funny to make me sad, not to mention the fact that one of the moms bought them several packages of air freshener and a mop. It is her first boy to send off to college, the poor naive soul.

We drove up the Florida coast on highway A1A all the way from Daytona Beach to St. Augustine, enjoying the sunset casting its glow across the water, watching the surfers in the tides that were still high from hurricane Fey’s wake. The next two days we drove through the southern coastal regions of Georgia and South Carolina, finally taking in some of the more historical sights of Charleston. We took the tour of Ft. Sumter, the Boone Hall plantation, and rode the mule wagon through the streets of Charleston listening to our guide tell us about the history of all the buildings as we passed by. More than anything, I enjoyed listening to this woman’s dramatic presentation, partly spoken in Gullah, which is a slave dialect created from 109 different African languages.

We then spent the next few days in Greenville, South Carolina with our daughter and son and their families. Since, of course, we were there to enjoy 7 of the grandchildren, we went to parks and the zoo, picnicking and trying to stay cool in the horrendous humidity of the south. The new baby is delicious and absolutely perfect. All the older ones have grown up so since we saw them last and, of course, Clay met little Vienna and Lola for the first time. Lola kept her distance the first hour or so that we were there, watching cautiously as Clay slipped down on to the floor enticing her to come his direction. I told him that I know how she feels. She must have felt the same way I did when I first met Clay…a little frightened but totally intrigued!

New baby Alexander taking in the world.

Clay spent one afternoon playing Grandpa Monster at what Henry and Jude call the “tree park.” At one point, all the kids there, not just ours, were hollering “Hey Grandpa, come and get me.” This is what you look like when you are everyone’s grandpa.

When we left Greenville, we headed back north and turned off onto a highway that would take us deep into the Smokey Mountains and to the sight of the original mission where Catherine Marshall’s mother lived as a young school teacher. The story is depicted in her book Christy and we knew we could find the spot if we drove far enough. After driving 12 miles through tiny towns, we followed signs that took us further into the mountains and on a one lane gravel road. That Quaker mission is now Ebenezer Baptist Church and still holds regular services. I will never again complain about having to drive far on Sunday mornings and I can’t imagine what it must have been like to travel over that terrain 100 years ago.

We finished up the trip with a day at Dollywood, perhaps the hokiest thing we have ever done but can I just say I love Dollywood! In spite of Dolly’s cleavage at every turn of the park, it is probably one of the most wholesome places I have ever been. You can tell that Dolly loves families and there is something for all ages to enjoy. Unlike a regular amusement park, the vendors are cute older ladies in costumes and older gentlemen who call you ma’am every time you turn around. I think the highlight of Clay’s whole vacation might have been riding down the Mountain Sidewinder with me. I would scream as we took every turn and he would laugh hysterically every time I did. We also heard a Southern Gospel concert by the Kingdom Heirs, which is not necessarily my first choice in musical style, but boy was it awesome. I have never heard anyone sing base like that; it took your breath away. We can’t wait to go back there with the grand kids.

It’s good to be home, to even see my own washing machine, and tonight I can cook supper for the first time in too long. I am planning a surprise from Dolly’s Dixie Fixin’s Cookbook! We start school tomorrow and I need to get organized today. Oh, and the last podcast on militant fecundity will be up as soon as Clay can get that done!



  Kim wrote @

Karen, I am so glad you all had a good time. I love the pictures! Talk to you soon, Kim

  Corrie wrote @

You are hysterical! Loved the SuperMan and SuperWoman pictures! (Can I used them in my campaign for “Sunday School Superintendent”? (wink, wink) [For everyone else, I am NOT running for nor would I ever want to be a SS superintendent. Just an inside joke that still has me laughing!]

And I agree that there is nothing more “superer” than a man who carries out the groceries! 🙂

I am glad you are home and that you all had a great time with family and visiting some pretty cool places! (I am personally happy to know that Dollywood isn’t as cheesy as I always believed it to be!)

  Cindy K wrote @


Glad you’re back and hope you recover from vacation with ease.

  Anne2 wrote @

Now Karen, regarding the SuperWoman pic, you aren’t helping yourself keep off any hausfrau babe-list. 🙂

  thatmom wrote @

Well, Anne, since hausfrau babe is about as babe as it can get at nearly 55, I do what I can!!!

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