The Graduate!

On her way, in the car!  Michelle was feeling a tad nervous, but also quite confident!

We arrived and found our seats. As the ceremonies began, there was lots of hoopla, with bagpipes and a procession of deans, the Provost, the President of RIT, and the graduates. It was quite spectacular, all in all.  What I forgot to say is that for Michelle’s college…The E. Philip Saunders College of Business…the whole thing was actually two days! The ceremonies began on Friday afternoon, with the convocation. This was with all the graduates of RIT…to the tune of thousands! I think there were about 3,500.  The convocation included a speaker who graduated several years ago and works for Microsoft. He invented Kinect for the X-Box 360.  The convocation concluded with President Destler  giving the deans of the various colleges the diplomas of the graduates.

At this particular ceremony, I sat next to a young lady who was graduating from the College of Science. She was so cute…she had a paper due just before the hoopla, so she worked on it and then decided she would attend the ceremonies as an observer. But, she also kept hopping down from her seat to her grandfather’s wheelchair, making comments to him. He was 90 years old, and she had asked him to travel from Florida for her graduation.  She told me she is one the youngest of his fifteen grandchildren, and the first to invite him to a graduation! We talked and it was fun having her next to me!

On Saturday, we went back in the early evening for Michelle’s graduation ceremony. More bagpipes and processions!  There were almost four hundred graduates from Michelle’s school.  Michelle got a little surprise.  She, along with four other students, maintaining a 4.0 average, will have their names engraved on a plaque which hangs in the college! Wow! Once again, our “homegrown” girl has impressed us with her diligence!  I spoke to her yesterday, and she said, yes, she often felt like she was spending all her time on schoolwork and why?  It really did feel good to hear that there was recognition for all her labors!

Well, all the gala is done now. Michelle walked down the graduation aisle although she is now completing her last two courses, online.

So, here is our graduate…..

Yup, that’s our girl!

Congratulations, Michelle! A job well done!

Mostly Murphy

Ah yes, last evening, the lighting seemed “just right” and Murphy was looking so cute ( he *always* does to us, though) that I thought I would take a few photos of him.

You will notice the last photo was of him on the couch….he had decided he had enough of the photography. haha….I wasn’t done! So then he hopped down onto the floor and gave me “the look”.

That signaled the end of our photography session. I had another assignment, anyway. Michelle’s boyfriend bought her a Betta for her graduation and she wanted a photo of it.  Gads, it is kind of difficult getting a photo of a fish swimming in a bowl of water!

I wanted to get a couple more photos as the sun was getting nearer and nearer the western horizon. I had discovered a wild Dogwood tree down the driveway the other day.  We had one we found a few years ago, but it died and I was so disappointed.  I never knew we had another….the other day as I was walking down to the mailbox, I saw a flowering tree. I wandered over to have a look and found it was another Dogwood!

It is funny that the flowers are only on one branch. I think we might need to cut a few trees down nearby so it has a chance to grow.

While I was down in the woods, I remembered a tree that was blooming on our neighbors’ property.  It had the prettiest pink flowers!  So, I trudged up through the woods, looking. It seemed like I was going forever, when I finally found the tree I was looking for. It looks like a wild Cherry from the bark.  The blossoms are so pretty!

One last photo. This morning, I giggled as Murphy was eating.  Does your pup sit down to eat?  Murphy does this all the time. I never had a dog that did this before…he is so relaxed as he eats!

How Quickly Time Flies

This post was actually written yesterday, April 27, but I was having trouble posting it with my phone due to poor reception!

This is Michelle sporting her medallion she received at the Outstanding Undergraduate Scholars event…she looks like she owns the world, doesn’t she?

Today she picked up her cap and gown for graduation.

This picture isn’t the greatest, but in the bag is her cap and gown along with honors cords and the tassel. She is most excited about the tassel which she wants to hang on the rear view mirror!

All I know is, it seems just a short time ago,  I sat down at the kitchen table and began teaching a little girl to read and write, and facts about math.  I watched as that little girl gracefully ingesting required information and then moving right along. By the time she was fifteen, she had finished all the required classes.  She had conquered language arts, history, science, and  Bible…and had even accomplished subjects that made my knees buckle, like physics and pre-calculus. It seemed that hurdles placed in her way were merely there as a challenge to hop on over, whereas in my own mind, they proved insurmountable mountains.

It was such a short journey, but I am so glad we took this route. I now look at a confident young woman who looks ahead to the future!

Thoughts on Homeschooling, An Incredible Ceremony!

It is so hard to believe that next month, Michelle will graduate from college.  It was only yesterday that our little girl began her education. We decided that homeschooling was the route we wanted to take.  We just felt it would be a great way for a child to learn.  After all, it is parents who train their children to use the potty, tie their shoes, and many other life skills. Why not reading, writing, and arithmatic ? There are so many different curricula available, and many come with explicit instructions for parents.  Homeschooling is not just for the kids…it is an adventure in learning for all involved if done properly.

Michelle proved to be like a little sponge when it came to learning.  By completion of kindergarten, she had mastered the skill of reading and was well on her way. We had chosen a very work intensive curriculum for her kindergarten and first grades.  She flew through the coursework as though it was playtime.  I must note at this point that both of our kids were very, very active. The best way to settle them down was reading.  Michelle is two years, three months older than Ben and when they were very little, I daily read fifteen to twenty books a day.  That was how we spent our “free time”.  Sometimes, I read so much that my voice would actually disappear! (I always used different voices for each character in their books)

After Michelle’s intense kindergarten and first grade, we changed curriculum to workbooks through another publisher. One of the prerequisites for this curriculum was a survey of a child’s skills to properly place the child, grade-wise.  When Michelle took the barrage of testing, it was determined she was best suited to enter the third grade. This meant she skipped second grade.  Her basic reading, writing, math, and science levels were all well above the grade 2 level,  so we placed her in third grade.  We ordered her curriculum and she began working on computerized coursework. I was a bit apprehensive at first,  wondering at the wisdom of skipping a grade,  but she proved definitely properly prepared for the work she was given.

Michelle was fairly self-motivated when it came to her schoolwork, although there were times when we had to encourage her to “finish up”!  As time progressed, she learned to work almost totally by herself, and by grade 12, she rarely asked questions.  She aced her pre-calculus and physics studies, briefly asking Mark for help from time to time when stuck on a problem or concept. Mark’s Mechanical Engineering background was intense in math and science, so he was more than qualified in these areas.  Michelle never had problems with history and when language arts presented any challenge, I was up for that, loving this area.

Michelle had completed all of her “public schooling career” by age 15 and she began attending Finger Lakes Community College. Before beginning there, she took a test to see if she was properly prepared and when I asked about her results, the administering person assured me I had “nothing to worry about”.  Michelle proved that the work was a “piece of cake”.  She would come home from college and write down each assignment and would then write an amount of time she felt needed to complete the work.  Each day was spent using the allotted time on the assignment. Michelle did a fantastic job at FLCC and was discouraged by one course…Statistics, in which she received an A-. Every other course, she completed with an A.

After finishing up at FLCC, Michelle planned to probably attend one of the state colleges, although she also had her eye on a small private university located not too far away. It was “on a whim” that she applied to Rochester Institute of Technology.  Their E. Philip Saunders College of Business was one of the highly-ranked business schools in the United States.  Michelle was accepted and the rest is history!  She maintained a “perfect” 4.0 average throughout her studies and is set to graduate in May.  (She is actually taking two more courses and finishing in August, but given her record, the school is allowing her to receive her degree in May.)

Last night’s ceremony was entitled Awards for Outstanding Undergraduate Scholarship 2012-2013. The ceremony took place at the Gordon Field House and Activity Center which is an enormous complex housing tracks, a gymnasium, swimming pools, ice arena, and even more!  It was a very colorful and delightful experience!  It began with two bagpipers…

and then a processional of the Deans of the various schools, the President of RIT, and then the Scholars. The Deans wore the colors of each individual school, resulting in a rainbow of color on the stage!

Note: I could kick myself for not making proper adjustments for the lighting in this building.  Please excuse the excessive orange color, but be advised (this said tongue-in-cheek) that the school’s colors include a lot of orange!!!

There was a brief message by the president of RIT, Dr. William W. Destler.

The presenter of the scholars was Dr. Jeremy Haefner, Provost and Senior Vice President, Academic Affairs.  In presenting each of the scholars, he read a brief statement given by one of the student’s professors, attesting to the student’s outstanding characteristics. The scholars are chosen from the student body and must have at least a 3.85 of a possible 4.0 average and have completed at least 125 quarter credit hours of study. (2/3 of the total for a baccalaureate degree) Other factors account for selection such as creative work, service, civic activities and research.

Note: okay, so this is a funny picture….just look at the face of that dean looking at Dr. Haefner.  Gads, how did I ever catch this one???

After Dr. Haefner congratulated each student,  the student was then presented a bronze medallion by President Destler, then congratulated by the dean of the college the student attended.  The medallions were designed by the late Professor Hans Christensen who was a renowned silversmith. He chose an Athenian owl which symbolizes wisdom and on the opposite side where the scholar’s name is engraved, an olive branch.  Here is Michelle as she crossed the stage.

We each received a booklet with a listing of the scholars.  This listing included where they attended high school and gave a brief overview of accomplishments.  It was interesting to note that there were four other students who were homeschooled, two of which are studying engineering. Each scholar had been given the opportunity to invite a teacher or professor who made an impact on their life and of the sixty-one who were invited, over thirty were in attendance.

After the awards ceremony, the scholars, along with their guests, were moved into another area of the (amazingly, incredibly! large) gymnasium for a catered meal. We had been sent information regarding the event a couple of months ago and were asked to make a selection of a meal.  The choices were a vegetarian meal, a chicken meal, or prime rib.  We had prime rib and it was delicious!

This was certainly a night to remember! I will post a photo of the medallion later…

I Wonder Why?

Why is it that I have been so tired as the darkness sets in?  And why was I awake at four this morning?  Poor little Murphy was enjoying a nice deep slumber when I told him it was time to get up!

Michelle had classes today and I was concerned about her driving by herself to school.  (It is about 45 miles each way)  With temperatures lingering in the single digit readings, the roads can be very dangerous.  I have noticed some people don’t seem aware that stopping distances need to be increased on slippery wet roads.  So, Mark and I went along with her today.  It almost seemed silly at first as the roads weren’t too bad.  But as we got closer to Rochester, we were glad to be there….there were periods of near whiteouts and the roads were snow covered.

Mark and I shopped around a little and then picked Michelle up after noon.  We went out to a Chinese buffet and had a good time.  Thankfully, the roads were in better repair on the trip home than on the trip up.  We stopped at Eastview Mall for a bit, then Michelle ran into the library in Victor to pick up a book. The weather has been so cold, there really weren’t that many people out and about.

On the way home, I snapped a photo of this farm on a hill outside of the small town of East Bloomfield.

This isn’t the greatest photo, but I took it with my cell phone as we were driving along.  Not too bad for a salt laden windshield.. Anyway,  I really loved that big white cloud and the trees near the road.

Mark and I watched the Sabres game against the Carolina Hurricane.  We lost 6-3 but it was kind of a weird game.

The cold weather has made for a lot of woodburning  but next Wednesday, the temperature is projected to soar to 50 degrees!  Ah yes, the weather rollercoaster rides once again this winter!

Another (Birth) Day!

Today we celebrated Michelle’s twentieth birthday…..it just does not seem possible she is that old. Where did the time go?

Michelle and Ben designed this day according to Michelle’s wishes.  Michelle’s boyfriend, Jacob, arrived here shortly after 7:30 am, as planned.  Ben made waffles and bacon for breakfast.  After breakfast, the kids watched television for a bit.  Then Michelle opened presents and we were off to Canandaigua to purchase items to pack for shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child.

After our shopping was completed, we were on to Victor, to the Olive Garden Restaurant.  We had a nice time there and the photo above was taken there….Michelle kept asking me not to photograph her while she was eating, but I really wanted a good photo of her! This will have to do.

A very busy day, all in all and everyone is exhausted.  Even Murphy.  For one reason or another, he insisted it was time to arise at 3:30 this morning. Argh…..this has been an incredibly long! day!

In Downtown Rochester

Yesterday afternoon, Michelle had an interview for an internship job.  At Rochester Institute of Technology, it is mandatory that students work for two ten week periods at a business in their field of study before they can graduate. Michelle is majoring in Business Management and she is thinking she might like to hone in on Human Relations.

As an aside, when we picked Michelle up after she was done at school, she was so excited.  She has a class that is somewhat “difficult”. (She has told us that one of the major differences between the community college she attended and RIT is that the students at RIT are more focused and are striving to achieve good great grades.) The professor noted that the scores on a test  handed back ranged from 58% to 93%.  Michelle got a 93%.

We had some time to kill before Michelle had her interview downtown.

I have this “strange” concept of downtown Rochester.  I imagine it is safe if one is always alert to safety!  When Mark and I were first married, we lived very close to the downtown area.  Even though it was a stone’s throw away, I never, ever explored it! The area where we lived, I had to always make sure that the doors were securely locked every time we left home….or even went outside!  Just before Mark and I were married, I went to his house to do laundry.  I was in and out of the house, cooking steaks on a grill.  I went down to the basement to put the clothes from the washing machine to the dryer, and there was a young man in the basement, stealing some of Mark’s  tools! Another time, someone broke into my car to steal my radio. (Now you know why we live in the woods!)

We  dropped Michelle at a very nice building on a small street off Main Street.  The area was extremely clean and neat!  Michelle had been given information about where to park, so Mark and I sat in the car  in the parking lot while Michelle was inside.  As I sat there, I asked Mark if it might be safe for me to take some photos.  He asked *which* camera I might be toting around and when I told him the little micro 4/3’ds, he told me just to not look too conspicuous. Off I went!

The wind yesterday was ridiculous!  I struggled to hold the camera steady on many shots. I am not exaggerating at all…I had no idea it was going to be so windy!! But, I did manage to get some photos!

This lovely pillar sat alongside the road where Michelle’s interview was. Nice to be formally “greeted”!  And, Rochester is indeed a city rich in history. It is shameful that there is so much crime there now.

A view of some of the buildings downtown.

This building, with its Mansard style roof really intrigued me. Seeing the sign “Leasing” made me wonder just what they were leasing?  Michelle has a dream to buy a loft downtown and live there.  Argh.  I cannot imagine it…while we were there, it was so annoying, hearing emergency vehicles constantly screaming either off in the distance, or down our street.  We “even” heard gunshot.  In fact, the year we moved to our new home, Mark’s dad showed us a news article, showing there had been nine murders that year within about an area two miles square, of our old house. Downtown just isn’t my idea of “nice”!

I looped around to the front of the building that was leasing, only to find is was next door to this beautful Victorian-styled church!  The tree with its abundant blossoms kind of diminishes the beauty of this church, but if you enlarge it, you can see just how beautiful it is!

This is the front side of the building that is leasing!  Oh, what an awesome building this is! Please do click to enlarge it….The lentils over the windows are incredible! There is a “badge” on the left side, top, that I think, reads 1873.  This building is so stunning, but in need of some major repairs.  I noticed windows missing here and there.  What a shame that such an incredible building has been let go. Located in a beautiful setting, I can imagine that this building would lend itself to some fantastic luxury apartments, if it were not too far gone on the interior.

Just down the street, and around the corner, I found this plaque, giving information about the quaint church i had seen!

I had not wandered too far, when I saw yet another interesting old building….

Wow.  This building was very interesting, indeed.  What was it originally?  I discovered the poster below in a nearby storefront and photographed it.

Well, the building a was HUGE store, built by two Scotsmen! Today, it has a sign that calls it “City Place”. Not sure about what it is, but the building is beautiful and very impressive in size, even by today’s standards!

I have mentioned previously that Rochester boasts a rather amazing Lilac Festival each year, in May.  The city has pretty flags sporting lilacs hanging about..

Rochester is also home of the prestigious Hochstein Scool of Music.

I was rather enjoying my little walkabout. Mark had told me that although Rochester is a fairly large city, the downtown area is “condensed”, rather than sprawling, making it easy to visit several areas within walking distance.  I wasn’t gone for more than maybe half an hour, and I saw so much of the city!

As I passed by an art supply store, I noticed these two dummies.

I circled back around to the lot where Mark sat. Off in the distance, I saw something pertaining to where my own love for photography began,

That is the Kodak building.  Kodak.  My very first experience with a Kodak camera was with my parents’  Kodak Reflex II camera. From that, I became so modern with my camera that touted a 126 mm casette and one of those hideous “cube” flashes! Ah, the memories!

I walked down to a turn on Cascade Drive, where I found not only this really cool clock,

but also another nifty view!  I love the sign welcoming folks to downtown Rochester, with the Kodak building off in the not too far distance.  I was not so thrilled that as soon as I got my shot staged, a big ole train came barreling along with those ugly, ugly black tanker cars!

I felt compelled to take this next photo, because the clouds surrounding the tree made it look like the tree had a halo! Let me tell you, that tree may look like an angelic thing with its beautifully innocent white flowers, but the thing stunk! How something so pretty could smell so foul….

And, just a couple more shots…

One of the coolest parts to taking this look at that city was that as I was taking the photos, people would stop walking and take a look at what I was photographing.  If nothing else, I made people stop for just a second, to look at something they might have passed a million times, yet never really saw!  That is one of the things that I love about photographing the world around me…not only do I look at things differently, but I cause others to have a look as well!

And, of course,  I was more than happy to see this…

at day’s end.  Life is so nice in the Bristolwood!

A little afternoon visit

Michelle has finished up this quarter of the school year.  Rochester Institute of Technology does things its own little way. Instead of the typical semesters, the school does quarters.  Each quarter is made up of a ten week (intense) session.  This will be changing, but only after Michelle has already graduated next year! The following year, they will begin doing semesters.

Michelle is now awaiting her final grades, which will certainly be good ones.  She has studied and worked hard and it has paid off.  So, I wanted to do something a little different and fun today as a bit of a celebration.  I asked and Michelle thought taking a ride to Bath would be fun.  We planned to do a bit of shopping, pick up some Chinese, and visit with Eunice, my Amish friend, on the way home.

We did the shopping and then the Chinese, then headed off to Eunice’s house.  Upon arriving there, they had just gotten home from attending a wedding.  It was so much fun to see little Chris (3) dressed in his white shirt, black pants with suspenders, and a little black coat.  He is such a cutie and Michelle was so impressed by how much he knows!  I bought him a book that has pictures that you place stickers on and as he looked at the pictures, he called out the name of the animals!  Amish kids typically speak Pennsylvania Dutch (a corrupt German) at home and the kids don’t learn English until they begin school at age five. Eunice began getting High Five Magazine  (a publication of the same company that produces  Highlights Magazine)  and Chris is learning so much! Michelle said he also called out the names of letters as he pointed to them. Very impressive for a three year old!

Little Susanna is now about fifteen months old.  She has grown so much and is about the size of a baby her age. She sits on the floor on a blanket and watches everything going on around her. She was wearing a pale blue dress with a pretty white apron and white kappe. She also had on black stockings and little knitted black booties.  She was so adorable to watch….she is happy as a lark and kicks her little feet in excitement.

Eunice was baking up “just seven dozen”  cookies.  She has a woman in Bath that sells them for her.  I was so surprised to see her using a recipe for Pumpkin Whoopie Pies that I had given her!  She baked as we chatted away. She wasn’t using a timer for her cookies…she would just pull them out from the wood cookstove and then rotate the tray and place them back in the oven until they were golden brown.  Eunice moved here two years ago and before that, she had a bakery in Michigan. She said she baked tremendous amounts of cookies, pies, and bread back then!

As always, I so enjoyed our visit.  As always, it ended too soon!  It was beginning to get late and the sky was getting dark. Michelle and I said our good-byes and went outside.  As we left the house, it was pouring down snow.  I quickly opened the door and called for Chris to “come!”  As soon as he saw the snow, he threw his curly little blonf head back and let out a tremendous burst of laughter! Then he went over to a piece of equipment sitting outside the door and “tasted” the snow.  He was so funny.

The family buggy was still sitting outside the barn, so I asked Michelle to snap a photo of it.

Between the dusk setting in and the snow falling, this photo looks out of focus, but  you can see the trails of snow against the black buggy.

I drove home and was glad I did!  As we headed north, the snow got progressively heavier as we traveled. I could keep the high beams on the Explorer on for awhile, but had to dim them most of the way home.  This was scary, as this is the time of the year when deer are a bit giddy and have a tendency to run out onto the road. 

By the time we finally reached Naples, the center lines and white outside lines on the road were totally covered in snow.  There had to have been at least three inches of snow on the roads and there wasn’t a plow anywhere in sight!  I drove so slowly and opposing traffic all came toward me with their flashers on.

We reached our hill and I stopped at the bottom to place the Explorer in High 4 x4.  I am so grateful for the tires on that vehicle…they are wonderful, even on snow-covered steep hills! Here is what we came home to…

The snow has stopped now and the wind is picking up. Thus, the fickle weather continues with Saturday being warmer once again.  We just never seem to know what is next!

I will leave you, Dear Reader, with this.

When my dad gave me the planter filled with Begonias for my birthday back in August, he made a comment that the flowers ought to last at least “one more month”.  How about *three* months!  Although the flowers on the front side of the planter were killed by frost, the ones facing the house are still continuing to bloom!

Tonight, I am thankful for friends! It is always so wonderful to get out and visit with Eunice and Noah.  I miss so many other friends…it seems like my friends are mostly located long distances from my home!

Tomorrow is Michelle’s Birthday!!!!

I am so much more excited about tomorrow than about today!  Today was a rather humdrum day with little going on.

I did wander down to the Dollar General Store in Naples this afternoon.  I was feeling a bit on the restless side because the sun was shining, although it was quite chilly! 

This is just a quick post because I am tired and I am anxious to take a look at the Victoria Classic Holiday Bliss magazine I picked up today.  My oh my….this magazine is full of the prettiest holiday photos I have ever seen! I love Victoria Magazine, but this issue is so beautiful…..with photos ranging from simple little touches to luxuriously elegant ideas!  Eye candy, indeed!

Today, I am thankful for the birds that sing so happily outside our house.  I know that is a little unusual, but they are so chipper!  Just hearing their songs and little chirps can make a less than stellar day so much better! I really am thankful for the birds and that I can feed them.  God gave us those little birds to remind us of His great love! The Bible says that not even a little sparrow falls from a tree but that God is aware….How much greater His love for us?