This morning after gathering her coloring book and crayons, I lift her into her wheelchair. She knows me now and always greets me with a huge smile. We've been spending some time together each morning her and I. As the sun starts to filter through the fancy wood blinds I look over, she smiles and I see a radiant girl.

"Where's pink?" she asked. I help her find the color she needs. Dora the Explorer's shoes are going to be pink today. I hadn't planned on spending each morning with Emily. There is an hour or so where my daughter Lydia is in a religion class each morning and Emily's mother is her instructor.
Actually I had not given much thought to where Emily would be during that time each day. Now we share a table in the early hours and my life is better for it.

Her questions are generally very simple. She loves Dr Pepper and coloring. Her time each day is not being spent in the office or at PTA meetings or hosting the neighborhood block party, they are spent in a day program and at her home with her parents.

This morning my heart pauses a little as she asks, "Am I smart?". I smile and reassure her that she is and then she continues, " What is smart? I can't cook. I don't drive".
I take her hand and explain that smart is knowing something. I assure her that she is the best kind of smart. She knows how to make people laugh and helps them to smile. She brings joy to people. With a world that has so much darkness, her kind of smart is so needed. She is such a blessing to those who know her.

The moment passes; she is coloring Dora's dress brown and I have just been taught a soul lesson.

As a parent and a homeschooling mom maybe I'm concerned more than I should be about how the world views what is a success or the best kind of smart. I am finding the best lessons in my life always come from unexpected places.

Thank you Emily for gifting me your picture. Guess what, I love coloring too!


The Flying Circus

This is the first picture after the hot air balloon crashed. Oh wait, maybe I need to start at the beginning.

Last year my sweet older kids purchased a gift certificate for a hot air balloon ride for my birthday. It has always been a dream of mine to ride in the air in a big beautiful balloon. With Michael gone a great deal, the weather and the distance to a company the ride kept getting postponed.
I saw an ad for The Flying Circus and found that there was a weekend where they did the hot air balloon rides too. I called Mark Nelson and arranged for my flight!

The Flying Circus is held every weekend for 4 months about 2 1/2 hours from our home in Virginia. There were so many planes of olden days. A certain husband and smaller boy were thrilled. Michael ran around taking pictures of plane engines, props, and wings. I think he was a in a little bit of  heaven.

After the airshow that was full of flying and aerobatics, we ate shaved ice and waited for the wind to die down so the balloons could inflate. It was quite a hot August afternoon and there was no shade from the sun. The kids got to pick out some treats from the gift shop. Lydia chose a mood necklace with an airplane on it. Thayne and Maliea both chose different types of model airplanes.

  My balloon ride was not scheduled until after 6 pm. Lydia and I waited while the others went to check out the ReMax balloon while they were doing safety checks. All of a sudden the man told Thayne to jump in the basket and help him. Thayne was so thrilled! He got to pull on the red strap that opened the top to let all the air out. He loves helping people and was so excited they let him get in.
I think that even Maliea had a great time watching all the planes and balloons. 

Then it was time.....

Up, Up, Up, up in my balloon. Up so high I can almost touch a cloud. Our basket was pack. 7 of us. Perhaps maybe a bit too full. I was right under the burner and it felt like a campfire on my head. I did get a small burn on my neck. All part of the adventure right.
The thing that surprised me the most was that you felt nothing. It was so very very calm, like standing still. There was a man in his 20's, a WWII vet, his girlfriend and another couple in their 50's. Fascinating people and we got to know each other well because we crashed. Oh yeah. It is probably all my fault. That darn law of attraction thing. Our flight was supposed to be about 90 minutes long. We did a really fun touch and go on the ground.  People stopped in their cars and waved to us. It was really beautiful with farm fields and ponds. But...it was like standing still, in one spot, with nowhere to go and nothing to do.
At about 20 minutes into our flight I was beginning to wonder if it was going to get any more exciting. That is when it happened! A wind shear from the East hit the side of the balloon and collapsed it. The pilot was amazing trying to recover but to no avail. We were going down.
I don't think anyone was really scared or anything because we had just done the touch and go about 10 minutes earlier and we weren't descending super fast. Then we hit. Three time really  hard before we skidded to a stop. At least we were upright. I loved it!!!!
Honestly my neck and back have been hurting but it was worth it for the adventure of it all.

It was about 2 hours before the chase van could get to us and take us back to the hanger. We got to chat and share the stories of our lives. There was no where to go and except for the bugs, it was a lovely evening. A bunch of strangers who found companionship in life stories. I learned something about myself which is probably the best part of the balloon trip. I like to really live life! I like to do things that really make me feel alive. I am not satisfied with just being stagnant. I love to share with other people and learn that despite how different we are, we are mostly just the same inside.

I am grateful for my children to gave me this experience and these memories. It was the perfect gift even if it wasn't the perfect balloon flight, I now have a story to share.


This morning Thayne brought me his dollar that he got from the tooth fairy. He said, " Here Mama, I want to give this to Mia, so she can have a start on her goal to go to college."
He constantly asks if he is a good boy. He see the world so differently but I think he is going to be just fine.


Our beach

There is never enough time to just relax. I am so grateful to have this wonderful place on the property. We are so blessed to be able to have our family home evening right near the water tonight.