Monday, June 11, 2018

Cosmos and Classical Conversations Essentials (Writing)

Cosmos and Writing @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Previous posts in this series:


“[S]ome artists look at the world around them and see chaos, and instead of discovering cosmos, they reproduce chaos, on canvas, in music, in words. As far as I can see, the reproduction of chaos is neither art, nor is it Christian.”

[Madeleine L’Engle, Walking on Water]


The art, the cosmos, of writing—this is where language (the 2018 Classical Conversations Practicum theme), rhetoric (the third art of the trivium), and community (the third “C” of “Classical Christian Community”) all come together.

Rhetoric (speaking, writing, creating, communicating) is incarnational, an embodied idea.

“[T]o paint a picture or to write a story or to compose a song is an incarnational activity.” [Madeleine L’Engle, Walking on Water]

“What’s the point of ideas if those ideas are never made flesh?” [N.D. Wilson, The Rhetoric Companion]

“Rhetoric is a productive art, the principled process of making a product.” [Scott Crider]

Rhetoric is an art of the trivium.

Grammar, Dialectic, RHETORIC
Memory, Thought, SPEECH
Naming, Contemplating, CREATING
Finding, Collecting, COMMUNICATING
Knowledge, Understanding, WISDOM
What, Why, WHETHER

We participate in the Imago Dei through these human activities.

Rhetoric is an art we practice in community with others.

“Rhetoric is “the care of words and things”; that care is associative, a practice one learns—and never stops learning—in the presence of others, the ones you lead and are led by.” [Scott Crider]


How does the art of rhetoric apply to the writing component (IEW) of Essentials? And how does it create a bridge to the Challenge program?

The Art of Rhetoric

    • Invention  (What)
    • Arrangement  (In What Order)
    • Elocution  (How)
    • Memory
    • Delivery

Institute for Excellence in Writing “IEW” (Essentials)

    • Source Texts/KWO  (What)
    • ‘Structure’  (In What Order)
    • ‘Style’  (How)
    • _______
    • Reading Papers Aloud

Lost Tools of Writing “LTW” (Challenge)

    • 5 Common Topics  (What)
    • Persuasive Essay  (In What Order)
    • Schemes and Tropes  (How)
    • _______
    • Presenting Papers

** IEW prepares students for Challenge by introducing them to structure and style. Challenge students move on to LTW, but they will use their IEW research essay skills for their many science papers in Challenge A and B as well as the story sequence skills for their short story in Challenge B.

Essentials Writing (IEW)






Setting, Characters
Conflict, Plot
Climax, Resolution

(Grammar concerns itself with the form of sentences, and we put those sentences together in writing to create the form of paragraphs, which then form essays and stories.)



Order + Beauty = COSMOS!

Writing Quotes

“In art, the Trinity is expressed in the Creative Idea, the Creative Energy, and the Creative Power—the first imagining of the work, then the making incarnate of the work, and third the meaning of the work…” [Madeleine L’Engle in the Introduction to Dorothy Sayer’s The Mind of the Maker, which compares the making of art (particularly writing) to the Trinity in metaphorical terms. The Trinity being Book-as-Thought (Father), Book-as-Written (Incarnate Son), and Book-as-Read (Holy Spirit). Dorothy Sayers is the author of the essay ‘The Lost Tools of Learning.’]

“The pen indeed is mightier than the sword, for it is in written word that we do most powerfully preserve that which is noble and expose that which is evil. And so in great part, the very future of society rests with those who can write, and write well.” [Andrew Pudewa of IEW]

“The discovered matter has to be shaped, given form. Organization gives form to the argumentative matter, providing a beginning, a middle, and an end to the small universe of the essay. The ordered substance must them be communicated through the medium of style, the words and sentences that carry the reader through that small universe.” [Scott Crider, The Office of Assertion] [Invention, Arrangement (structure), Elocution (style). Form! Order and Beauty! Universe = Cosmos]

“The study of rhetoric educates one in a particular liberty, the “liberty to handle the world, to remake it, if only a little, and to hand it to others in a shape which may influence their actions.” Through this “office of assertion,” the writer is a leader of souls… Rhetoric is “the art of soul-leading by means of words.” …Rhetoric is “the care of words and things”; that care is associative, a practice one learns—and never stops learning—in the presence of others, the ones you lead and are led by. Such soul-leading is a liberal power, one which in its finest and fullest manifestation is a form of love: the finest rhetorician not only loves wisdom, but also loves others who do so. The finest rhetor, then is a friend… The purpose… is to teach… how to live within such a community with words so full of care that they release the light of brilliance.” [Scott Crider] [Rhetoric! Words! Community! Loving thy neighbor!]

“Variety pleases. And a pleased reader is more attentive to an argument than a bored one, more likely convinced that the time spent inside the cosmos of your essay will be worth the time… A writer who fulfills his or her obligation to please the reader with variety persuades the reader that the reading is time well spend making the sun run.” [Scott Crider] [Beauty! Loving thy neighbor!]

“Play with words. Juggle them. Write them down. Roll in them. Bake them into cookies. Quote them. Remember them. And such richness in the vocabulary of discourse does accumulate.” [Wilson, The Rhetoric Companion]

Why Liberal Arts?

“All liberal arts, in both the sciences and the humanities, are animated by the fundamental human desire to know, the fulfillment of which is a good, even if it provides no economic or political benefit whatsoever. An education for economic productivity and political utility alone is an education for slaves, but an education for finding, collecting, and communicating reality is an education for free people, people free to know what is so.” [Scott Crider] [The Trivium is for people who are free to know truth!]

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Cosmos and Classical Conversations Essentials (Grammar)

Cosmos and Grammar @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

“Grammar is where God, man, the soul, thinking, knowledge, and the Cosmos all come together.”

[Andrew Kern]


COSMOS ~ Order and Beauty

Cosmos and Math


We use LANGUAGE to think about and communicate IDEAS.

We use GRAMMAR to think about and communicate IDEAS about LANGUAGE.


** Grammar prepares Challenge students for the study of Latin.


Essentials English Grammar (Essentials of the English Language (EEL))


  • Letters and Sounds [The smallest building blocks of our English language are the 26 letters. Letters and combinations of letters represent sounds called phonograms. The EEL guide includes spelling rules and lists for at-home use, but they are not used in Essentials class.]

  • Words [We use letters to create words. Words are magic! We use vivid and precise words to think about and communicate ideas clearly. Essentials students are introduced to and encouraged to use new vivid and precise vocabulary during the writing (IEW) portion of class.]

We might have a million words in English, but we have only 8 Parts of Speech! (Noun, Pronoun, Verb, Adverb, Conjunction, Interjection, Preposition, Adjective). Dionysus Thrax, a Greek who lived in 100 BC, was the first to categorize words into parts of speech. This is not a modern idea, and it doesn’t apply only to English! Not only are there only 8 parts of speech, but there are only 2 main parts of speech (noun and verb) and the other parts modify and support them.

  • Phrases and Clauses [We put words together to create phrases and clauses.]

  • Independent and Dependent Clauses [Clauses contain both a subject and verb. We have two types of clauses. An independent clause contains a complete thought, and every sentence contains at least one independent clause.]

  • SENTENCES [Sentences are the FORM of grammar!]

Every sentence has five parts. (Subject, Verb/Predicate, Capital Letter, End Mark, Complete Sense/Thought)

All sentences have structure (4: simple, compound, complex or compound-complex),
purpose (4: declarative, exclamatory, interrogative, or imperative),
and pattern (there are 7 different patterns, but every pattern contains a subject and a verb).

This means that we have 112 different possible combinations!

Grammar Quotes

“Grammar is based on the link between something that exists and something that applies to something that exists. God "exists." He called Himself, "I Am." He made us, putting us in the garden to steward it. As stewards, we need to know what we are stewarding, so he made us able to know the world we live in. The world around us exists as things that act or are acted on and have properties or qualities. In other words, the world is full of subjects with predicates. To know the world around us we must think it. When we think something, we always think something about it. In other words, the mind thinks subjects and predicates. Predicate comes from the Latin and means "to say about." All thought and all existence revolve around the relation between subjects and predicates (substances and properties if you like).” [Andrew Kern]

“Why is grammar fun and valuable? Grammar reveals to us the beauty and power of our own minds. With only eight kinds of words and two sides (subject and predicate) of each idea, we can make the plays of Shakespeare, or the novels of Toni Morrison, or the poems of Elizabeth Bishop. No system, so gorgeously elegant, could be expected to make such a language. Through grammar we see the simple form of our binary minds; in all of our sentences, however elaborate, we are making a predicate about a subject, and this reveals the meaning of clarity. For each sentence or idea, I must know both of these two things: what you are talking about, and what you are saying about it. For each paragraph of sentences, I must know what the paragraph is about, and what you are saying about it. For each essay of paragraphs, I must know what the essay is about, and what you are saying about it. A sentence, with its two sides, is a model of the mind.” [Michael Clay Thompson of MCT Language Arts] [Form! Beauty!]

“We study grammar because a knowledge of sentence-structure is an aid in the interpretation of literature; because continual dealing with sentences influences the student to form better sentences in his own composition; and because grammar is the best subject in our course of study for the development of reasoning power.” [William Frank Webster, The Teaching of English Grammar, Houghton, 1905]

Why do we study English grammar?

1. Interpretation

2. Composition

3. Reasoning

4. God revealed himself in human language.

“….God humbled himself not only in the incarnation of the Son, but also in the inspiration of the Scriptures. He bound his divine Son to human nature, and he bound his divine meaning to human words. The manger and the cross were not sensational. Neither are grammar and syntax. But that is how God chose to reveal himself. A poor Jewish peasant and a prepositional phrase have this in common: they are both human and both ordinary. That the poor peasant was God and prepositional phrase is the Word of God does not change this fact. Therefore, if God humbled himself to take on human flesh and to speak human language, woe to us if we arrogantly presume to ignore the humanity of Christ and the grammar of Scripture.” [John Piper, Reading the Bible Supernaturally]

“Language is the house of being. In its home man dwells.” [Martin Heideggar]

“Where language is weak, theology is weakened.” [Madeleine L’Engle, Walking on Water]

“We think because we have words, not the other way around. The more words we have, the better able we are to think conceptually.” [L’Engle]

“We cannot Name or be Named without language.” [L’Engle]

“When language is limited, I am thereby diminished.” [L’Engle]

“I now regularly meet students who have never heard the names of most English authors who lived before 1900. That includes Milton, Chaucer, Pope, Wordsworth, Byron, Keats, Tennyson, and Yeats. Poetry has been largely abandoned. Their knowledge of English grammar is spotty at best and often nonexistent. That is because grammar, as its own subject worthy of systematic study, has been abandoned. Those of my students who know some grammar took Latin in high school or were taught at home. The writing of most students is irreparable in the way that aphasia is. You cannot point to a sentence and say, simply, “Your verb here does not agree with your subject.” That is not only because they do not understand the terms of the comment. It is also because many of their sentences will have no clear subject or verb to begin with. The students make grammatical errors for which there are no names. Their experience of the written language has been formed by junk fiction in school, text messages, blog posts, blather on the airwaves, and the bureaucratic sludge that they are taught for “formal” writing, and that George Orwell identified and skewered seventy years ago. The best of them are bad writers of English; the others write no language known to man.” [Anthony Esolen (author of Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child), Exercises in Unreality: The Decline of Teaching Western Civilization]

“[Sentence diagramming] was a bit like art, a bit like mathematics. It was much more than words uttered, or words written on a piece of paper: it was a picture of language.” [Kitty Burns Florey, author of Sister Bernadette’s Barking Dog: The Quirky History and Lost Art of Diagramming Sentences]

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Cosmos and Classical Conversations Essentials (Math)

Cosmos and Math @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

“Numbers are a map of the beautiful order of the universe, the plan by which the divine Architect transformed undifferentiated Chaos into orderly Cosmos.”

[Michael S. Schnieder, as quoted by Stratford Caldecott in Beauty for Truth’s Sake]


Let’s continue our discussion of Cosmos by exploring the ways in which it relates to math.

Order + Beauty = Cosmos


From Merriam-Webster, the definition of MATHEMATICS: the science of numbers and their operations, interrelations, combinations, generalizations, and abstractions and of space configurations and their structure, measurement, transformations, and generalizations. [Whew!]

Keith Devlin defines math as “the science of patterns.”

Another source defines math as the study of relationships using numbers.

The quadrivium consists of arithmetic (pure number), geometry (number in space), music (number in time), and astronomy (number in space and time) [Beauty for Truth’s Sake].

Our focus in Classical Conversations Essentials is arithmetic.

There are only are 3 (three!) basic things to learn in arithmetic. Everything else is just more complex combinations of these three categories:

Numbers (8), operations (6), and laws (4). That’s it!

This is our FORM!

Math in a nutshell: “There are digits, you do things with them, and they follow laws.” Leigh Bortins


Math as Language

Number symbols are like nouns. They represent things. There are many ways to represent numbers.

39%  4.75  5/6  -92   IV  llll

Operation symbols are like verbs. They represent actions.

+ - x ÷

Grouping symbols make associations like punctuation.

( ) [ ] { }

Relation symbols make comparisons.

= < >

Placeholder symbols work like pronouns. They take the place of numbers.

X y a b ? __


My Personal Focus for the Year

** Learn and use math vocabulary in class so that students are better prepared for math conversations in Challenge. [Dividend, divisor, quotient, addend, sum, subtrahend, product, etc.]

Ask students to attend to details and name what they know in math equations.


Math Quotes

“[The universe] cannot be read until we have learned the language and become familiar with the characters in which it is written. It is written in mathematical language.” [Galileo Galilei]

“The world is God’s epistle written to mankind. It was written in mathematical letters.” [Plato]

“The laws of nature are but the mathematical thoughts of God.” [Euclid]

“Math teaches you to see what other people see. It teaches you to see what another author has written down. When we read, we don’t see the words ‘a’ or ‘the.’ Math makes you stop and say, I have to see the decimal, I have to see the exponent. Math is just good practice for being a human being who sees the world. Just think how an artist can see… shapes, colors. Our kids should see a math formula better, if someone would just show them. It is the same as artistic endeavors. If you can see the numbers, if you can see the operations, if you can see the laws, it will all change your ability to see complex ideas.” [Leigh Bortins]

“When I was a boy, we had to memorize the multiplication tables in the second grade, up to 12 x 12 = 144. Let’s set aside the fact that it takes a deal of intelligence and some ingenuity to accomplish that task. Forget that you would have to learn that anything multiplied by 5 ends in 5 or 0, alternately. Forget that if you were sharp you’d see that odd times odd is odd, and everything else is even. Forget the patterns showing up among the 2s, 4s, and 8s. Forget the nice progression in the 9s, with the tens digit gaining one and the ones digit dropping it: 09, 18, 27, and so forth. What that memorization did was to free you up to become comfortable with numbers themselves, and with the structure of arithmetic. Once you had done that, you could play with numbers creatively, long before you’d ever suspected the existence of algebra or calculus, with their toboggan curves and their infinite series and their radio waves, their transcendental numbers and the mysterious i, the square root of –1, whose existence we must leave to philosophers to determine.” [Anthony Esolen, Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child]

“The study of mathematics should instill in students an ever-increasing sense of wonder and awe at the profound way in which the world displays order, pattern, and relation. Mathematics is studied not because it is first useful and then beautiful, but because it reveals the beautiful order inherent in the cosmos.” [from The Education Plan of St. Jerome Classical School, Hyattsville, MD, quoted by Thomas Teloar in The Purpose of Mathematics in a Classical Education @ The Imaginative Conservative]

Friday, June 8, 2018

Cosmos and Classical Conversations Essentials (Intro)

The Cosmos of Language @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

I was asked to lead a local Classical Conversations Essentials Academic Orientation this past month. I have spent three years in Essentials class as a parent and another three years as a tutor (and parent), but this was my first opportunity to lead Tutor Orientation at a CC Practicum.

As I was preparing to lead the orientation and then spending time in discussion with the tutors and directors during the orientation, I was reminded (again) why I love Essentials.

It is the class in which students are beginning to play with Cosmos. They are learning FORM.

I’ve written about some of these ideas before, after speaking at the math practicum and then as I was preparing to tutor Essentials the first year, but I re-organized my notes to correspond with the three elements of an Essentials class: math, English grammar, and writing. I’ll be sharing these thoughts in a 4-part series, beginning with this introduction.

“Cosmos” is the thread that ran through the three days of training and connects all three class elements together.

Let’s begin here.

A cosmos is an orderly, harmonious system or “world.” The word derives from the Greek word “kosmos,” meaning “order” or “ornament.” Cosmos is diametrically opposed to the concept of chaos. 

While we’re at it, let’s look up the definition of ornament: (Merriam-Webster)
2a. something that lends grace or beauty
3: one whose virtues or graces add luster to a place or society

Order. (Form. Structure. Truth.) Ornament. (Beauty. Harmony. Grace. Virtue.)

Order + Beauty = World

(We’re really starting at the very beginning, here.)

Genesis 1:1-2 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

Formless. And what did God do? Created form: separated light and darkness, waters and sky, land and seas.

Empty. And once the form established, he filled the place with beauty: plants, stars, birds, sea creatures, animals, man.

Genesis 2:1 Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.

(Words matter!)

Array: verb (used with object):
1. to place in proper or desired order
2. to clothe with garments, especially of an ornamental kind; dress up; deck out.

And, as Leigh Bortins says, that’s how you teach everything to everybody. Figure out what the form is, and then you have all the content in the world to make it creative, beautiful.

Sentence forms
Latin ending forms
Math formulas
The structure of story

You can put in whatever content you wish once you know the form. The content is what makes it unique and interesting.


In Classical Conversations communities, Essentials students are learning the FORM of three arts.

Math: Learning the Form of Numbers, Operations, Laws

Grammar: Learning the Form of Sentences

Writing: Learning the Form of Paragraphs (Reports, Stories, Essays, and Critiques)


Orient and Invite @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Orient and Invite

As tutor trainers, tutors, parents, and fellow students, we have the opporunity to “orient and invite.”

Orient Our Tutors, Parents, and Students to Essentials and the Arts of Math, Grammar, and Writing 

Review Past Concepts

Introduce New Grammar

Invite Our Tutors, Parents, and Students to the Conversation

Begin Dialectic Discussion in Class

Point to Available Resources

Continue Grammar and Dialectic Discussion at Home


May I invite you along on my learning journey?


“The reason you study math, science and art is so that your imagination will be filled with wonder and awe at the Creator of the most mind blowing project ever: the world. And whether you are learning to read music or playing an instrument, whether your hand is holding a pencil or gesturing in the theater, you are training yourself for the warfare of worship. You are teaching your body gratitude; you are teaching your soul thanksgiving. There is hardly an adequate evaluation of your progress, but the best grade you can receive is the outworking of a thankful heart. If you have truly learned Algebra, if you have mastered the story of Western Civilization, if you can tell me the names of the constellations that whirl about our heads, then you will do it with laughter in your voice, you will do it with joy in your heart and gratitude in your bones. Worship is the point of learning because worship is the point of life.” Toby Sumpter, in response to the questions ‘Why are you in school? Why are you reading this page? Why are you reading Mein Kampf?’ This is an excerpt from Veritas Press’s Omnibus III Textbook.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Family Vacation ~ Part 3 (Yosemite) [52 Hike Challenge ~ Hike 24]

Yosemite @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

I had never been to Yosemite, and I’ve wanted to visit for years.

Our family vacation was a little off-the-cuff. We made hotel reservations for Anaheim at the last minute, and had no definitive plans for the second week. I knew I wanted to visit Yosemite, but I couldn’t find reasonable lodging for our family of 6.

On Friday, Russ decided to extend our Disney park-hopper tickets one more day (five days total). So we checked out of our hotel on Saturday morning, spent the whole afternoon and evening in the park, and left Anaheim around 9 pm. We drove overnight to Yosemite, stopping to sleep a couple hours along the way.

We drove into Yosemite around 7 am on Sunday (Mother’s Day). My sister Holly had been there two weeks prior and had sent me detailed instructions on where to go and what to see and do. I followed them to the letter, and we managed to see much by 4 pm that afternoon, by which time we were DONE. We spent two hours driving out of the park (gorgeous!!), grabbed some food in Modesto, and splurged on two cheap hotel rooms for the night (ah, the joys of having a family of 6). I went straight to bed and stayed there until shortly before checkout the next morning.

Yosemite Glacier Point @ Mt. Hope Chronicles 

We started our Yosemite morning by driving to Glacier Point (above). Exquisite.

Then we drove into the valley (top photo, with a nod to Ansel Adams).

We took a short hike to Bridalveil Falls.

Yosemite Bridalveil Falls @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesYosemite Bridalveil Fall Trail @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesYosemite Bridalveil @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

From Bridalveil, Russ sent me on a solitary hike. He drove the kids and we met up on the road near El Capitan.

Yosemite Trail @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesYosemite El Capitan @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

We barely managed to find a parking spot and took the shuttle to the Lower Yosemite Falls where we hiked the 1 mile loop.

Yosemite Upper and Lower Falls @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesYosemite Lower Falls @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesYosemite Falls @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesYosemite Cook's Meadow @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Then we rode the shuttle to the strenuous Mist Trail near Vernal Falls. We only hiked to the footbridge, but that was a mile of straight up—seriously the steepest incline that I’ve hiked. And then a mile back down.

Yosemite Mist Trail @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesYosemite Vernal Fall Footbridge @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesYosemite Wildlife @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesYosemite Down Mist Trail @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

By then we were DONE (since it was our 7th day of walking a TON and we hadn’t had much sleep the night before), so we rode the shuttle back to our truck and left. But we enjoyed many gorgeous views on the way out.

Yosemite Valley View @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

I’m looking forward to returning and spending more time hiking and exploring.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Family Vacation ~ Part 2 (Universal Studios and Harry Potter)

Universal Studios @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

After spending a beautiful two days at the Disney parks, we drove over to Universal Studios on Wednesday. The kids had never been there, and we had been looking forward to Harry Potter World.

It was a gorgeously sunny but cool day. The park was only open for eight hours, so we spent the first and last part of the day in Harry Potter World and midday in the rest of the park. We didn’t have time for the backlot tram ride, but we spent a couple hours repeatedly hopping on every ride on the lower lot without any lines.

Lola was a fantastic sport all week. She walked without complaint, stood in line without complaint, and rode every ride with excitement whether it was the little kiddie train ride in Fantasyland or the Tower of Terror (Guardians of the Galaxy—my least favorite ride in the three parks) or The Mummy (my favorite ride in the three parks—a short but fantastic mix of Indiana Jones, Space Mountain, and California Screamin’ (which, incidentally, was closed while we were there)). She’s completely fearless and old enough to go in the single-rider lines, so we took advantage of those all week.

Most of my pictures were taken in Harry Potter World. It was fantastic.

Universal Studios Hogwarts @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

The kids went on the rides multiple times without much of a line anywhere. The rollercoaster is so stinkin’ short that I wouldn’t want to wait in line for it, but it was great fun without a line.


Universal Studios Ollivanders @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesUniversal Studios Ollivanders Interior @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesUniversal Studios Owl Post @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesUniversal Studios Owl Post Interior @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesUniversal Studios Butterbeer @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

We all enjoyed a mug of butterbeer. Isn’t the skyline dreamy?!

Universal Studios Harry Potter @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesUniversal Studios May 2018 @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Family Vacation ~ Part 1 (Disney)

Scovel Family Vacation 2018 @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

April and May were an absolute blur.

April was full of end-of-school-year activities. Easter, Teen Pact (Levi), CC Practicum Speaker Training (me), Memory Master proofs (Leif), Mock Trial (Luke), Robin Hood Ball/English Country Dance (Levi), hiking (lots), movies, work (Levi), swim meets, end-of-year celebrations, and more.

Luke and Leif had a piano recital on the 29th. My mother-in-law (on cello) and I (on flute) joined them for one song.

Russ left the next day for a week-long business trip out of state. During that week of single-parenting, we had a plethora of appointments and things on the to-do list. I also had to get the boys to swim team practice every day since Levi was helping the assistant coach while Russ was gone.

We spent all day Friday at the Wings and Waves Waterpark at Evergreen with a HUGE group of friends. Russ coached and the boys competed at an all-day swim meet on Saturday. Levi and Luke attended an English Country Dance that evening. Russ and Luke and Leif returned to the swim meet on Sunday while Levi headed to work at the YMCA.

Then Sunday evening, at 7:00 pm, Russ arrived home and we almost immediately left and drove 15 hours to Anaheim, California. After driving all night, we pulled into the Disneyland Park and spent the entire day there. Because we’re crazy.

We stayed at our favorite hotel (because it has reasonably priced family suites that sleep 6). It’s within “walking distance” of the park. And walk, we did. And walk. And walk. For seven days straight. Five in Disneyland (and California Adventure), one in Universal Studios, and one in Yosemite. No days in between. Two over-night drives. Because we’re crazy.

I took almost no photos with my big camera at Disney. My phone and Instagram have made me lazy. Unfortunately, my phone doesn’t have a very good camera. But it is what it is.

Disney 2018 @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Three years ago, after our last family trip to Disneyland, I wrote a short blog post about why we visit Disney (when many other people loathe the idea). This year, I knew that this might be our last opportunity to visit as a family. Levi is working as a lifeguard, and his schedule is getting more complicated. Both Levi and Luke will be at the high school next year (yes, I’ll be sharing about this huge adjustment as soon as I can get the blog post written), so we won’t have flexibility during the school year. Luke will be old enough to lifeguard next summer, so our family schedule will be even more chaotic. Everyone was at the perfect age this year, and we desperately needed some fun together time. It was everything I’d hoped it would be. More in the next couple blog posts.