I have such mixed emotions about the fact that it is the last day of school today.

Part of me rejoices.  I reach out greedily for our days to be our own again.

But part of me is in deep mourning.  Because the end of school means the end of another year.  It means my children are a year older.  Their baby-ness is fading quickly.

Maybe that’s why I’ve had a severe regression back to being on the verge of tears with IWAN lately.  Maybe that’s why I broke down to the ladies in the front office last week in anticipation of my baby going to Kindergarten next year. 

I’m ready for summer.

But I’m not ready for another year to slip silently away from me. 

As I drive down the street and see the school kids lugging home backpacks full of every ounce of paper from their desks, huge smiles stretched across their faces, I’m so excited for them.  But part of me is sad for their mothers.  And part of me is sad for me. 

Luckily I got through preschool graduation without a tear yesterday (except for the tears while I wrote out the thank you notes to Lucy’s teachers before the big shin dig).  And luckily I get to do a little give-away to take me away from my wallowing.

And it’s perfect for the last day of school because I’m giving away a breathtakingly beautiful book about light and learning.  And what a better thing to celebrate on the last day of school than those two things. 

This book needs just a little bit of explanation.  When my sister was on her mission in Bulgaria years ago she met Eva, a young girl so full of light and excitement for life.  Later Eva came to live with our family in the states to go to college here.  She has since become a self-made fabulous photographer with an amazing eye for light. 

Check out some of her photographs here.  She has presented on photography all over the world and exudes love for what she does.  She also has photography collection exhibits all over the world.  Much more about her here.

This is what she says about her book Lost in Learning: “My intent in this project has been to create a portrait of an age where exploration was life’s supreme adventure.  Times when men first took a lens and pointed it across the sea in search of new worlds. 

“Or turned it Heavenward exploring worlds beyond the stars…turning my own lens on the relics of centuries past I have sought to recapture that spirit of the explorers…creators…scientists who have left us with so lasting a legacy…the photographs invite the viewer to look deeper into the lives and works of these great figures. 

Much more about the book here and here.

So, enter a comment for a chance to win this beautiful thing.

I’ll announce the winner on Saturday morning.

Happy last-day-of-school to all those who are in celebration/mourning mode here in the desert 🙂

p.s. Eva’s blog is here.


  1. I am suffering from IWAN too lately. We are maxed out at 5 as well. I will bask in my memories.

    Love the give away book.
    I love photography.

    Your Canadian cyber friend

  2. The book looks absolutely stunning! I know my husband would absolutely LOVE it, he's been interested in photography for as long as I have known him, but until now we had not been able to afford a camera. Would love to give him some inspiration!

  3. I am speechless…reading that excerpt filled my heart. I need to read that book!

    Also thank you for so eloquently saying what I am always feeling. I'm right in line with your same thoughts and feelings lately.

  4. What a fab idea for a book. The end of school and the start of a new school year are always so bitter/sweet. Have a fun summer! I wished we lived in the desert and could be done with school by now.

  5. Shawni, my goodness, another year did not just "silently slip away"!! Look at all the fun adventures you and your family have had this past year! You definitely got the most from you life this year! Your kids are growing up to be beautiful young men and women.

  6. The book looks wonderful !! I would love sharing it with my family. The last day of school is full of mixed emotions but, looking forward to the summer months. I hope you and your family have great adventures together this summer !

  7. I have such similar thoughts and feelings of my children growing older… how do you comfort that. When you have the IWAN how do you know it is not HF wanting that for you too? I know- it is a personal thing, just wonder that always about myself. Thank you for your blog- I love it.

  8. My oldest daughter and I love to read your blog. Your family has become an example to ours. The first parenting book I ever read was "Teaching Your Children Values". It is my most favorite and I have been a fan of your family ever since! Thank you for sharing your beautiful example and ideas with the rest of us. It is having a powerful impact.

  9. What an amazing book! I have such an appreciation for noticing the small details and the beauty around us. It warms my heart like no other when my kids point out something breathtaking that they have noticed on their own.
    How lucky you are to know such a talented young woman!

  10. Very beautiful! I too have mixed feelings about the end of the school year. That changes when we all get to sleep-in 🙂

  11. Looks like a fun book! I love reading your blog, even though I never comment! I have mixed emotions about school ending too. My baby will also be going to kindergarten in the fall!

  12. I never know what to feel that last day of school. I'm in college now, and even when I see young kids getting out of school, I'm excited for them to have summer, but sad because they don't realize how fast time is flying!
    Looks like an amazing book!

  13. Oh that book is stunning! How amazing and blessed is your family to have known her and she….you. SO cool.

    Glad things are going so well for her.

  14. That book looks amazing! What a fun giveaway! I love photography and am always trying to stretch. Super interested in this book. Thanks Shawni! =)

  15. Are you giving away friend tickets? Because I would love to be your friend for a day. You inspire and lift me with your love and light. Thanks for being you!

  16. I am the mother of two girls (one a newborn) and I read you blog whenever I get the chance. At first I thought, how does she do it with 5 children, there is no way I can have more than two… but I get it, I see how they grow up too fast. Thank you for showing me to cuddle a little more, sneak more kisses and embrace the moment, because all too soon, it will be gone!


    PS As a teacher, it is amazing to see the growth in kids from the first to last day of school! Enjoy the summer!


  17. Wow, beautiful book with a fantastic attitude of exploring and learning and sharing! Thanks for the chance to win. I come to your blog for the real-ness and stay for the life lessons. Thanks for sharing!

  18. Well, let's be honest…..my tears this week are not tears of excitement for school to end. They are tears of stress about how on earth I am going to take care of four special needs kids all summer! School is my life saver. So I could sure use a good book to occupy my time 🙂

  19. End of the school year is indeed bitter-sweet, but yay for new beginnings and adventures! The book looks gorgeous, I am awed by talented artists who have a natural gift for capturing beautiful light.

  20. Feeling the same way as the school year comes to a close. I swear it went by faster than normal this year. I also always feel sad to say "goodbye" to teachers that give so much to my kids. Anyway, would love the book!

  21. I too can't decide if I'm happy or sad about the end of another school year. One (my first) going off to BYU and one in his last year of middle school, one will be a junior, one in 6th and 1 in 4th…..I don't remember growing older, when did they?
    Love, Love, Love the book, especially the illustrations. The artwork is amazing.

  22. That book looks incredible!

    My kids still have 4 weeks of school – how do your kids get out so early? I'm just a bit jealous! Happy summer to you and your family. Love your blog – very interesting to read. Great photography and great words.

  23. The book looks awesome. I am always inspired by the things you share: books, thoughts, advice, etc. (Speaking of IWAN, my 10-year-old daughter told me yesterday that her favorite smell is Pampers! Random… and made me so proud!)

  24. Thank you for sharing her info again. I was telling my sister about her work and couldn't find it in your archives. I LOVE her work. Would love the book

  25. It looks like a beauty-filled book. And I mourn a little, too, at the end of the school year. But, I'm glad to have my babies all to myself for a bit.

  26. What an awesome looking book with such a unique perspective and composition. I'm studying humanities and photography right now and so it especially intrigues me.

  27. I tried "grounding" all my kids so they wouldn't grow up. So far, it hasn't helped. My third child graduates high school in a couple weeks. It's such a bitter sweet time. This beautiful book is one I know my graduating son would love. Thank you for the giveaway and your wonderful blog. 🙂

  28. Thank you for putting words to whatever is making me so emotional lately! I am so looking forward to summer and having my kids home…and they are sad to say goodbye to their teachers…and every mother I talk to, every blog I read about the end of school is making me cry! While I love watching them learn and grow I hate that they are so grown up. You nailed it.
    This book looks amazing for all ages!

  29. What a neat book. It's a great way to look at old and new again!
    I follow your blog for a lot of your photography tips and also for the entertainment value of the family musings.
    Paulette says hello and is glad Lucy is doing so well!

  30. Eva's eye has inspired me to look through the lens of life a little differently.

    So glad my life has intersected with yours, if only via the internet. My life has been enriched by the beautiful expressions of life that you share. They are the way my heart feels! thank you!

  31. Time flies when you least expect it. I have two nieces. One is just graduating from Kindergarten and the other is going to be turning 1 in August. I love looking at photography from anybodys perceptive. My sister-in-law is a photographer and she does amazing things to her pictures.


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