On August 15, the children and I left for a two day, 700+ mile trip to take Olivia to college. I pulled a Uhaul to carry all of her belongings and supplies and such, and that was a challenge!
Clay and Sam, waiting outside Olivia's dorm room--ready to unload.
We began moving her in on that Saturday morning, at 8:00 AM. As soon as that Uhaul was unloaded, I returned it to the nearest Uhaul place! Then all of the children and I joined Olivia's roommate and her family (her parents and her 4 siblings) in unpacking all of the stuff and making their room look like a home.
Jimmy flew in later that afternoon, and he joined in on the fun!
Julie and Olivia soon after we arrived--lots of work to be done in the room.
We worked in Olivia's dorm room for most of the day, and then we attended the parent/family cookout on campus. Later that evening we attended the New Parent Orientation. It was a nice time of visiting and learning more about the school. It was also a time for tissues as all of us mamas realized that we would be leaving our children behind.
Sunday morning, our family attended worship service together with Olivia's roommate and her family. And with lots of other college students, faculty, and staff. I introduced myself to anyone who looked like they were affiliated with the school and told them that Olivia was a freshman, please look after her, etc. Yes. I was that mom.
the children outside Olivia's dorm on Sunday morning
Sunday afternoon we attended the opening ceremonies for the school followed by the president's reception. This allowed us more time for visiting with other (mostly freshman) parents and faculty. Again, I made my rounds, meeting various teachers and introducing myself.
Monday, I think all of the parents headed home. All except Olivia's parents. And that became the theme for the next two weeks! Olivia's family stayed. Jimmy was able to stay with us until Wednesday, but then he had to fly home to go back to work.
The children and I stayed!
It kind of became a joke around campus among the people who personally knew Olivia. "Is your mom still here?", became the regular question. (In a nice way---the students seemed amused by it). The following Sunday when I attended church, one lady asked me if I was already back to visit my daughter. I had to tell her, "No, I haven't gone home yet!" :)
I stayed a total of two weeks. In a hotel with four (sometimes five, when Olivia spent the night with us) children. We made friends with all of the hotel employees, and they all knew Sam by name. During the day while Olivia was at orientation and then when she began her classes, we went to an amusement park, a science museum, countless trips to Target and a variety of other stores, and we also managed to complete 5 days of schoolwork. In the evenings we visited Olivia. I continued to work on her dorm room, we took her out to eat, we drove her to her study sessions, we attended a student singing night with her--whatever she needed us to do at night--we were there to do it. She would give me a list of things that she thought of that she needed, and I was her personal shopper each day. And I was so, so happy to be able to do this for her!
After she met all of her classes, she was a little bit overwhelmed. I looked through all of her class materials and helped her get it all organized. Going from homeschooling for 12 years to 16 hours of college classes has been a big leap for Olivia--in the areas of time management mostly. I am confident that she will do well in her classes, and I expect her confidence level to grow over the next several weeks. The work load is great, but I have assured her that she can do it!
Many people, both friends and family, have repeatedly asked me, "How can you leave Olivia at a college so far away from home? Why is she going there?"
My answer is this: After much, much prayer, thought, deliberation, and discussion, we feel that this is the best decision for Olivia at this time. We are only committed to one semester. Olivia felt that if she didn't give this particular college a try, she would never know---but she can always come home if she is terribly unhappy.
All of her classes will be taught from a Biblical worldview. The classes are small, and the teachers know all of the students (and some of their mothers-Ha!) by name--both inside and outside the classroom. School sponsored events include prayer, Bible study, and hymn singing. The campus has such an uplifting, encouraging atmosphere.
It can all be summed up in the school's mission statement:
.... a private, independent liberal arts college, provides a comprehensive undergraduate experience designed to develop students spiritually, mentally, physically, and socially; to integrate into the students’ lives the Bible as the revealed will of God; and to prepare students for lives of service to their Creator and to humanity.
A life of service to God. That is what it is all about. That is the big picture. God loves my child infinitely more than I can imagine. And while my heart is sad at her being gone from our home at this time, I am choosing to unselfishly rejoice in this opportunity that she has been given. That's not to say that there have not been many, many tears. And that I can't believe how much we all miss her. But, I am confident that for now, we have made the right choice.
On a happy note, she joined the college's cross country team! It was a great decision for her to make. She has told me more than once that going to XC practice every day is such a stress reliever for her, and a nice break from studying. She is making friends with her teammates, and she has a super coach. They have several meets beginning this Friday. I am not sure if we will be able to attend any of them (we have Julie and Clay running XC here at home....) but I hope that we can make one of her meets.
Here are some pictures from our two week trip:
The dorm room
These dorm rooms are so much bigger than what I lived in in college. She has a roommate and and two suite mates. They share a bathroom and two huge closets between their two rooms. Everything in the room is built in, even the beds. She has a sink in her room, and lots of drawers and shelves. There are even four drawers underneath her bed!
And one more
A couple of days before I was due to drive home, Lynn flew down to visit for a couple of days and to help me drive back home. We spent one afternoon cleaning up and finishing the decor of Olivia's room, and then we took Olivia out to eat.
The next day we attended the college's daily chapel service, and then we spent a few hours on campus taking pictures, meeting people (remember, I am that mom who needed to meet as many people as possible and tell them about Olivia!), and shopping in the college bookstore. It was so encouraging to be in chapel with the students---hearing their beautiful voices singing praises to God, and hearing an inspiring message about redeeming the time from the college president.
at the restaurant
also at the restaurant
One Saturday that I was there Olivia spent the day with us. We did all sorts of fun things and then we found the coolest outdoor/indoor mall where we ate supper.
Leah and Olivia
sweet sisters--the night before we left
It was hard to leave. We pulled away from Olivia's dorm at 7:50 AM last Thursday morning. Tears abounded. But it's ok! I have had the privilege of raising the most wonderful daughter for 18 years. She is grounded in her faith, and she loves the Lord. She is kind, loving, hard-working, and compassionate. She is already making lots of new friends, and I believe that she is thriving.
We talk on the phone and/or text multiple times a day. We figured out Face Time before I left. We are sending her letters and/or packages so that she gets mail almost daily. And we are counting the days until her first visit home.
Unless we go to visit her first!