img_06931Shore ’nuff – look at that!  Four hunnerd thousand miles on her!  Happened somewheres in Illinois as we was driving to Nebrasker.  Yee haw!  Can’t be happier than that!  Of course her signals ain’t working quite right (they are not working AT ALL! ) but she’s in the shop today fer that.  And Gary’s seat ain’t too comfertable no more, but he don’t mind.  He’s used to stuffin pillers and sweatshirts and even Freddy the Pig, one of our mascots that rides in the winder, behind him to prop hisself up.  Yup.  Don’t get much better than this – four hunnerd thousand miles…

Our conference season began with our odometer creeping closer to that 400,000 mark.  We left our temporary home in Rolla, Missouri in March.   On our way to the first conference in Detroit we stopped in to see Charlie and Jenni in Bloomington, Indiana, where Charlie (our 2 year old grandson) had been undergoing proton radiation.  In January Charlie had a grapefruit sized tumor removed from his brain and proton therapy, available at only 5 locations in the U.S., is the only “cure.”   His life expentancy goes from 15% to 85-90% with proton radiation.  Jason’s insurance covered the cost of this, for which we are all grateful.  Charlie’s head was a bit ripe looking for a while, img_0645

but so are ALL bald heads!img_0647

The second photo is that of Grandpa Gary, Dr. Thornton (the medical director of the Proton Center) and Ed, the all-around manager.   All these baldies have scabs and scars on THEIR heads, too!

We did a one-day conference in a suburb of Detroit, then set up a few days later in a lovely heated garage in Grand Rapids.  We love our Michigan buddies!   We’ve never been able to celebrate birthdays there before, so that was extra special!

img_0676 img_0678 Here we are with our Michigan friends, the McDaniels and the Prewitts, who we’ve gotten to know (and love) through the MidWinter Conference.  Doug and Gary have the same birthday week, and Valerie made a scrumptious cake.

From Michigan we drove to Lincoln, Nebraska.  We were judges for the NCFCA regional conference – whew!  THAT was a challenge!  These amazingly well-prepared kids debating topics that I had little knowledge of- and doing it with style, grace, substance, and grit.  We have been SO impressed with the young adults who participate in NCFCA speech and debate.  What an opportunity to develop keen debating and communication skills.  We’d love to be at Bob Jones University in June for the finals.  I’m sure the finals will be amazing.  Go Ian!  Go Hannah!  Go Meagan!  Go Gages!

Lincoln, Nebraska is a smallish show, but very nice.  We love eating in Lincoln!  First it’s Lazlo’s, then it’s Valentino’s.  We love our dinners with vendor friends!  From Lincoln we drove HOME to MN.  Well, we kind of limped home to MN.  When we were 150 miles from home Gary realized we had lost a back trailer tire.  WHAT?  WHEN?  WHERE?  The axle had broken and the tire had spun off in the 15 minutes since we had been driving after a breakfast stop.  Sunday morning.  No shops open.  No tires to be bought.  We prayed, took as much as we could out of the trailer and put it in the van, and drove 35 miles an hour with only 1 full set of trailer tires.  God was merciful AGAIN and allowed us to get home that way.  A new axle had to be ordered and installed.

Home.  We were home in MN only 5 weeks in 2008.  God weaned us from Cokato and He weaned me from my garage-full of books – all neatly organized and alphabetized.   But just because He weaned us doesn’t mean I still don’t LIKE it there!  We worked very hard to get the house ready to put on the market to sell.  We packed, moved furniture, sheetrocked, painted, ripped up carpet, sanded and sealed the wood floors underneath removed carpet, and tried to get a few hours of sleep.  We were home less than 2 weeks and we had LOTS to do in that time.

dining room with newly refinished floor

dining room with newly refinished floor

The bathroom with a new mirror and wallpaper.  Love them mooses!

The bathroom with a new mirror and wallpaper. Love them mooses!

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I just can’t seem to get the hang of putting pictures in the best places!

The house looks great.  We bought a house that wasn’t  for sale in a town we never intended on living in and it’s been 13 years!  Though we’ve traveled much of the past 9 years, it has been home for a long time.  And we are sad to leave.  God used our church in Cokato and many of the people there to bring us through some tough days and to pray for us these past years of travel.  We will miss it.  We are praying that God brings a homeschooling family to buy our house and garage.  We have the BEST garage in Cokato – it is 32 x 44 feet with a second story.  It’s been a magnificent book building!  We had a book sale during the time we were home and so now we have only about 28,000 books instead of 30,000 books.  Anyone want any GREAT books for a GREAT price??!!!  We know that we cannot pack them all and bring them to Missouri since we don’t know WHERE we’ll be living here and books in boxes deteriorate rapidly.  We had lots of happy readers leaving with boxes and boxes of great books.  I think I will do another sale in June when I go back to finish packing.

Since MN we have done conferences in Kansas City, Missouri and Springfield, Missouri.  We get lots of questions about the impact of the CPSIA on our business.  We tell people that we are selling collectible books and if parents who buy them want to share them with their young readers, that’s fine with us!  The idea of anything printed before 1985 being a hazard is a very ominous cloud hanging over all educators everywhere.  What better way to change the future than to remove any truth about the past??!

We leave Rolla tomorrow to head to Oklahoma City and then Arlington, Texas.  Between Arlington and Nashville we are being blessed with a few days at a cabin in Oklahoma (riversEdgeCottages.com)  and then we’ll head to Winston-Salem where JJ will meet us for a few days.  We got to be together at Christmas, so it’s been a while.  We are bringing (well, actually Gus Solis from Lifetime Books is doing most of the hauling!) JJ his boxes from home.  I’m sure his son, Blaizen, will LOVE all the toys from JJ’s childhood.  JJ is finishing his first year at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA.  He is in Naval ROTC as part of his Officer Candidacy – it is a challenge and he has been pushing hard to meet all the requirements.  Whew!  He’ll have summer school classes too.

After Winston-Salem we head to Wichita, always one of our most fun conferences due to the friendships we’ve established there.  (You know who you are out there in Newton!!!)  Then it’s back to Rolla for a few days, off to a new conference near Chicago, then Denver and we’re DONE for the 2009 conference season.  We’ll be back in Rolla at the end of June.

My!  That was a lengthy update!  All I REALLY wanted to say was that Mighty Whitey is aging gracefully!

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