01 September 2014

Vacation #4 - Part 2 - San Antonio!

Last I wrote, I was heading down on the open road over mesas and through sage brush country, speeding through rolling prairies and under blue skies. And things went pretty well, except for that horrible rain storm.

Well, there we were, newly arrived at Sierra's house, rejoicing in our reunion while the kids ran around getting reintroduced and sharing toys and squealing in delight at mutual love of My Little Pony and trains. We got settled in, had a great dinner, got the kids sleeping situation fixed and the kids put to bed and Sierra and I got down to what we love to do - plan for exploration and fun (and talk! lots and lots of talking)!!

We sat down and wrote out a list: it was pretty long - we were really excited and overly zealous about all the possibilities - and then we circled our top picks and hit the internet for hours of operation, directions and cost.

Here's what our itinerary ended up looking like:
Thursday - Fort Sam Houston for lunch and the historic Quadrangle, followed by a swim in the neighborhood pool
Friday - afternoon of fun downtown checking out the Alamo and then dinner on the Riverwalk
Saturday - Morgan's Wonderland
Sunday - church and rest
Monday - Natural Bridge Caverns
Tuesday - Lackland Air Force Base
Wednesday and Thursday - hit the road again

We really tried to pack in as much fun as we possibly could into each day. I think that we accomplished that - every day was absolutely wonderful and we had a blast.

The first hurdle was figuring out to get five car seats into her minivan. We used Sierra's van because mine doesn't have the third seat in the middle row and hers does. Plus, Sierra lives in San Antonio, so it was easier for her to drive.

After one hot, sweaty hour of finagling/wrestling/shoving/rearranging of car seats, we got them in. Safely. I think we were quite a spectacle getting all of the kids in and out of the van - we had to lift the boys into the back seat through the trunk, and then climb into the trunk (this is a van, so standing room) to buckle them in. The girls could manage just fine, with the climbing, not so much the buckling - we still had to do that for them.

It was girls in the middle, boys in the back.

Then we were ready to go!

First item on the itinerary - Fort Sam Houston and the historic Quadrangle. Before we found the Quadrangle, we hit up Popeye's for some yummy lunch at a nice outside picnic table (outside because then no one cares when you spill a giant cup of lemonade all over the table - which happened). It was lovely though. The chicken was pretty good too.

They got their own table!
One of Sierra's friends had told her about this awesome place where you can feed ducks and deer. Yes, you read that right, deer. The Quadrangle is a huge, well, quad with a giant grassy courtyard, complete with a small pond and shady trees (not that shade makes a difference against the heat in San Antonio). There was an array of ducks and peacocks who eagerly greeted us shortly after we passed through the iron gates.

Warily eyeing us about half way down the Quadrangle was a tiny herd of very friendly deer. We got some pellets out of the machine and with palms loaded, we proceeded towards the deer. We didn't need to head to the birds because as soon as we approached the pellet machine, we were swarmed with about a dozen ducks and a handful of peacocks. So we fed them along the way as we headed towards the deer. This would have been a peaceful and idyllic scene had it not been for Little Man's fear of webbed fowl, and thus there was lots of fearful, almost tearful, whining and quite a bit of clinging. Literally. To my legs. And waist. So I ended up tossing the pellets pretty far away as a decoy for the birds while we headed towards the deer. This also involved simultaneously herding my little herd, except Little Man who was still glued to my leg, towards the deer. Did you know that herding small children is like herding cats?
Sunhats? Check!
"Is there anymore??"

Fortunately, Sierra and her brave and bold children reached the deer first and they got to feed them. Since Butterfly was with Sierra, she got to feed a deer right out of her hand! By the time I got there, a minute or two later, the deer were edging away from us - must have been the loud, running children . . .

We headed back towards the giant monolith many-rocked structure of a clock tower in the middle, which was flanked by some very cool cannons. We took pics and headed back to the duck pond. Eventually we also found a much-needed bathroom and then we headed back out to the parking lot, with a short detour to view the aircraft and take some pics in which we didn't get a single shot (between the two of us) of all five kids looking at the camera at the same time. We did get some very hilarious shots though . . .

Did you catch that universal sign for needing a potty break?
This shot isn't hilarious. Very pretty though.
This is "Funky Hair Duck", as we dubbed her.
This was the 8th or 9th picture, taken by Sierra - I took just as many . . .
"Smile everyone!"
Getting some personal time with the Huey
Then we headed back home. Since it was so terribly hot, we decided to suit up and head over to the neighborhood pool. It was pretty fun, although I have to say I am not a very relaxed person at the pool with my kids. None of them know how to swim and there's that constant fear of someone drowning when I'm not looking. Fortunately Sierra doesn't seem to suffer from this malady (at least not nearly as intensely as I do) and her relaxed attitude was contagious and by the middle, I was feeling better about things and enjoyed myself. It was pretty fun and the kids had a great time. And no one drowned, or even came close! Yay! (Seriously, I have this horrible fear of one of my kids drowning in the three seconds I"m not watching them - it just makes for an intense time at the pool. Next summer - swim lessons for sure for the kids. And Xanax for me.)

These pool pictures were taken with Sierra's super awesome fancy water-proof camera!

After some amazing (it was amazing because we were free to childlessly wander the aisles for an unspecified amount of time) retail therapy at WalMart after the kids went to bed (thank you Ryan!!), Friday rolled around and in the late am Sierra's son had a therapy appointment, so I stayed at home with the kids and fed them lunch and we watched My Little Pony and I prepared for our trip to downtown San Antonio! It was Alamo time!!

I had been looking forward to going to the Alamo for a really, really long time. And it was finally going to happen! In non-characteristic fashion, I did not look up any of the history of the Alamo and was going off what I foggily remembered from high school and early college history class - which was about a decade ago. I feel like I really missed out on some of the essence of the Alamo, but I didn't let that stop me from taking in the sights and enjoying myself. And trying to learn . .

I decided to wear Flower in my mei-tai baby carrier since it was pretty crowded downtown, and honestly, chasing after three small kids is exhausting (mentally). We unloaded the van and headed the few city blocks to the Alamo. Let me know just say now, if you are visiting San Antonio and can possibly go to the Alamo and Riverwalk on some other day than Friday afternoon/night, then do that. Apparently everyone who graduates from basic training on Lackland, and their families, was downtown seeing the Alamo and the Riverwalk. (It's what Mike did when he graduated from basic training.) Also, don't wear two shirts like I did.

We waited in line and finally got into the Alamo. Sierra gave me tidbits of information as went along, which was very helpful. The kids sort of enjoyed it, and I definitely did. Stepping into a building like the Alamo is like stepping into a piece of history. You are walking where history happened. You are looking at the same walls that saw military action, or in the room that housed the women and children during the fighting, and witnessed the fear, the hope, the intensity of human emotions that occurred within those walls. It's just special. I don't know how else to describe it. (Pictures are not allowed inside the Alamo as it is considered sacred.)

After we went through the Alamo, we walked around the grounds for a little bit and explored the cannons, took pictures and just enjoyed being at the Alamo. The kids really loved the cannons!

I love this picture (that Sierra took) :)
Here is one of many pictures of Sierra and I taking pictures of each other taking pictures of each other. See how that works? :)
This was the what-is-probably-super-awesome library, which was closed to the public. Sierra and I would have LOVED to have spent quite a bit of time in there!

South Texas shrubbery at it's best. Actually, it really reminded me of south Florida . . .
They are almost all looking at the camera! Also, therapy chewies are super awesome!! (I can't express enough how glad I am that I had brought that with me for Butterfly - it's the green triangle in case you are wondering.)
Since it was such a hot day, Sierra treated all the kids to some icees, which we ate on the small wall outside of the Alamo. It was the perfect summertime vacation afternoon snack! Cool and refreshing and kept the kids still long enough to get a good rest in. While the kids were entertained by sugary frozen goodness, Sierra offered to watch the kids so I could walk around and take some pictures (she is so awesome like that!).
This was one side of a monument to the men and women who died in the Battle of the Alamo

I had taken Flower out of the baby carrier to explore the cannons and eat our delicious snack; once we were finished with our icees, I put her back on. And the adventure continued!

Since the Riverwalk was literally across the street from the Alamo, we headed down to the Riverwalk. I was so glad that I was wearing Flower because a stroller would have been a great difficulty. Luckily, Sierra had just been down to the Riverwalk recently when her sister came to visit, so she had a really great idea for dinner. We followed the River for a bit, and then crossed over a very steep bridge.

A little further along and we arrived at The Republic of Texas restaurant (have I mentioned how proud of Texas Texans are??). We were able to get seated immediately inside the restaurant (yay for air conditioning!). The fact that we got seated immediately is a big deal, since we arrived right at prime time dinner rush on a Friday night. (We were very thankful!)
The menu was very interesting and entertaining!

The food was pretty good, although I found myself pining for New Mexico chile (apparently I've been acclimated to the culinary tastes of New Mexico) on my enchiladas. The kids were pretty well behaved and Sierra and I were able to do more talking. :D The waiter was friendly and he remembered Sierra from her previous visit to the restaurant.

After dinner, we headed straight back to the van. Although we did pause briefly so I could get a few more pictures. It was past bed time for my kids and approaching bed time for hers and the Riverwalk was very, very crowded. I was wearing Flower, and Sierra and I both had a death grip on our other children. It was so crowded that it was single file only in some places. A stroller would have been a nightmare - yay for babywearing!!

After the kids were in bed, Sierra got me hooked on the TV show "Big Brother" and we stayed up very late talking. It was wonderful!

And I will leave you with that since this post is getting pretty long - so stay tuned to hear more about our amazing Texas-sized adventures! :)

I'll leave with one last picture - I really enjoyed the architecture (for the most part) of downtown San Antonio. Some of it reminded me a bit of Chicago . . . anyway, here's one last picture. :)

24 August 2014

Vacation #4 - Check! Part 1 - the Drive

Recently the kids and I got back from our much anticipated and very wonderful vacation visiting Sierra in San Antonio in the great state of Texas. You can read Sierra's version of our amazing trip HERE and HERE.

It had been a long time, much too long, since I had seen Sierra. Mike even got to visit with Ryan and Sierra when he was in Ohio for pre-deployment training earlier this year. Me, however, not so much. Sierra PCS'd to San Antonio at the beginning of the summer, and San Antonio is a lot closer to Albuquerque than Dayton, Ohio. So I decided to plan a trip, pack everyone up, loaded the van with stuff, and the kids of course, and drive on down.

It was a twelve hour drive, not including stops, so I decided to break the trip up into two days. I have to say I was very nervous about doing an over-night layover road trip with the kids by myself. I came pretty close to canceling the whole thing, but I did a lot of research and found a hotel that I thought would be safe in Lubbock, Texas, and off we went. And I prayed a lot. A lot a lot a lot.

The drive was . . . pretty good overall. We ran into some really scary weather on the way there (and back), but that was really the worst of it. Desert monsoons can be intense - just outside of Albuquerque we ended up driving through this massive wall of water. Before we hit the rain, I remember looking out the window to where the rain curtain had already curved over and I couldn't see anything except this gray wall of moisture. A few seconds later we hit that wall and I couldn't see anything. Not the cars next to me, not the cars in front of me, not the cars behind me. I could barely see the white line of the side of the road (you know, that one right next to the passenger tire?). I would have pulled over, but I was afraid I would hit someone who was already pulled over since I wouldn't have been able to see them until I was about three feet from them. I couldn't exit because I couldn't see any exit signs. So I slowed down quite a bit and drove through. Ten minutes later, or what really seemed like an hour, we made it out on the other side and I was shaking like a leaf in a cold wind. A cold, wet wind. We prayed and thanked Jesus we made it safely through the rain.

And we continued on. We ended up taking a detour because the rain (that same rain we drove through) had washed out the main road between Santa Rosa and Clovis, New Mexico, so we continued east on I-40 to Tucumcari and headed south from there. This added about an hour to a trip. We stopped at the truck stop right at the exit for the road, and before we got out of the van, the road was not closed. When we got back in the van, the highway patrol had just closed the road. We were very fortunate that we stopped and that going potty took as long as it did, because if it hadn't, we would have continued on, then had to turn around at the river and head back, and then take the detour. So I was not mad about the detour, I was relieved that it wasn't longer.

Let me tell you, New Mexico is a huge state. On this small back country road from Tucumcari to Clovis, there were times where the only humans I could see as far as the horizon went in any direction where the ones in the van with me. It was nothing but rolling green prairie and blue skies dotted here and there with puffy, white clouds. Think Toy Story wall paper in Andy's room.

We stopped in Clovis at a McDonald's and I got the kids a snack and they played in the very nice, air-conditioned play place. I was hoping to meet up with a friend who is stationed at Cannon AFB, in Clovis, but she wasn't able to meet up at the time. So we planned for the trip back. After a little while, we got back on the road and headed towards Lubbock.

I had mapquest directions that I had printed out, and I followed the directions to a T - and ended up in the middle of no-where. Literally. Okay, it was the very outskirts of suburban Lubbock, but the hotel was no-where in sight. There was a small housing development and fields and a dirt road. It was then that I realized I had printed out two sets of directions. The first set had directions to the hotel address, the second only to "Lubbock, Texas". Guess which directions I brought with me?? That's right, the latter ones. So that added another thirty minutes or more to our trip. I was able to call the hotel and get directions and the lady who answered the phone was very helpful. Turns out I was on the same road as the hotel, I was just a long way away. I was pretty worried about not finding the hotel before it got dark, but we made it just in time, after driving through some very sketchy parts of Lubbock. More prayers answered for safety though!

So we arrived at the hotel and there was a parking spot very close to the main door, so we headed in, got checked in and got into our room with no trouble at all. This step was what I was worried about the most - small woman, with three very small children in tow, by herself, at a hotel - well, it just sounded like a quadruple homicide or kidnapping waiting to happen. Paranoid much? Yep, I am. Moving on.

We got up the next morning and loaded our stuff into the van and headed back into the hotel for breakfast. Turns out breakfast was Texas-shaped waffles. Welcome to Texas! Texans are very proud of where they come from; I like that about Texans. After breakfast, it was back into the van to drive pretty much straight south for a few hours.

We drove through more back-country roads (with very beautiful scenery) with minimal human existence. Let me pause here to say something about overpopulation in this country. Take a road trip! Seriously! I haven't driven too much of this country, but I have driven through some pretty expansive areas where there are hardly any humans, or evidence of humans. I mean, for miles and miles and miles. Hours even. People who think this country is over crowded really need to get out more. Get off the interstate and away from the cities and open your eyes. Okay, done with mini-rant.

I have to say I was very grateful that I was able to find some really great radio stations the entire way, from Albuquerque to San Antonio. Our CD player in our van died a few weeks before the trip, so there were no renditions of Frozen or our Oriental instrumental music to listen to. Just the radio. I was so thankful that we didn't hit any dead radio spots. Yay! So maybe we didn't stray too far from civilization, if there was a radio signal - although we did go through a few areas where there was only one radio station to pick from. Just one. Luckily it was public radio and I like public radio.

Continuing on, the drive was pretty uneventful. The kids were pretty good - I think this was their best road trip to date. It also helped that I moved Butterflies car seat to the middle row and put Flower in the back with Little Man. That made a huge difference! And the kids loved the new arrangement as well.

We finally arrived at I-10, and then we just had a little under two hours to go! We were almost there. I got a picture of a sign for Fredericksburg, Texas, the sister city of the city I grew up in (that would be Fredericksburg, Virginia). We made one last stop, in Fredericksburg, for potty and snacks.

Soon enough, we hit the rush hour traffic of San Antonio. Luckily, very luckily, Sierra lives in the northwest part of the city, and that was where we came into the city, so it wasn't too much of a drive. I was so afraid I would miss a turn or go too far and take even longer to get to Sierra's house.

Finally, we reached the road where Sierra lives. Then the housing addition. Then her street. Then her house. And we had arrived!! I was so relieved we made it safely with no mishaps, no car troubles. And I was so excited to see Sierra again!! I got the kids out of the van and we ran up to the door and rang the bell. We could Maya barking excitedly inside and the kids fumbling with the door. And then the door opened and there was Sierra!! We had made it! Lots of excited hugs all around. Forget about unloading the van - we had to catch up!

And now I'll leave you hanging before I get to all the great and wonderful adventures of exploration that we had together. I'll give you a preview: we saw the Alamo, we ate on the Riverwalk, we explored Natural Bridge Caverns and more. So stay tuned!

Also, pictures to be added later . . .

23 August 2014

The Changing of the Routines

This week was a big week. A week where we reached a milestone. A week where we transitioned from being a family of preschoolers to a family that is straddling two stages of life - school age and preschool.

Leading up to this big week we transitioned out of the past year of therapies and running around and transitioned into school life, and more running around.

Butterfly started Kindergarten this week. I can't believe that we have arrived at this huge moment in our, Butterfly's, life. Before I dive into all that is the first week of school life, a little bit about closing up the past year.

The first week of August, one year ago, Butterfly started the long awaited and much anticipated Speech Therapy. (By long awaited, I mean she was on the waiting for three months, after going through two months of evaluations by APS and waiting and more waiting.) Then, seven weeks later, Butterfly started going to Occupational Therapy.

Therapy life was . . . interesting. At first I found it to be incredibly stressful getting all three kiddos (then aged 2, 3 and 4) out the door at an early hour, and then keeping the younger two entertained during therapy, and of course getting to therapy on time, and keeping everyone fed and accident free (Little Man was only recently potty trained when we started) and it was just hectic. I was trying to figure out and deal with everything going on with Butterfly intellectually and emotionally and to be honest, I just wasn't coping well.

My sanity was found in bi-weekly play dates at the big, covered park on base with my wonderful German friend. Our kids got along great and we would often stay much longer than anticipated talking about life. We sat on our picnic blankets and ate lunch, and then while the kids played, we shared, we vented, we encouraged, we sat together in mutual contemplative silence, we did life together. It was not uncommon on Fridays for two o'clock to roll around, after arriving at eleven thirty, and the kids were sprawled out on the grass, spent from playing and running, and we were trying to shoo them off to go play some more so we could squeeze out a few more precious minutes of quiet, and friendship, and beautiful Albuquerque afternoons.

Gradually, in slow increments that sometimes went unnoticed until the change had been in place, things got better. The 45 minute long screaming fits stopped. Communication started, haltingly at first, and then one day, it just clicked. Butterfly found her words, I found more patience and understanding, and life got better. By the Christmas season, Butterfly's concentration was improving, her communication was improving and things were getting more in the direction of normal, whatever that looks like.

And then, summer came, as it always does, and like every summer, in the beginning it seems to stretch out in front of you like a huge, green field that invites you to run and play under the hot sun. And so you take off as fast as you can racing for the end, and you think that the green, and the flowers, and the warm sunshine will never end, so you don't slow down and then you stop, abruptly, because you've reached the end. Only you didn't take the time to stop and smell the flowers, and enjoy the warmth of the sun and feel the soft grass under your feet because you had plans and you were running. And then there we were at the last of our therapy sessions. More goodbyes after the goodbyes of the end of the school year, three months before.

I thought I would be relieved to not have to be out of the house by seven thirty twice a week, usually getting McDonald's breakfast burritos for breakfast on the way, hurrying the kids out the door, hoping I didn't forget anything. Only, I wasn't. I had adjusted to our routine. I found that I miss going to therapy. Butterfly's therapists were wonderful, and amazing, and caring, and helpful, and supportive, and they did such a great job teaching Butterfly. And we're all finished with therapy and it's so weird that we are done. I am so grateful for all that they did for Butterfly, and I know that they have made a lasting impression on Butterfly. Butterfly has mentioned that she misses them too.

But life goes on, and routines change, and here we are, the first week of official "school", Kindergarten, finished. Butterfly did go to school last year, and it was wonderful, but that too had to come to an end. Now she is at a new school, the base school, and we are walking almost every morning, and walking home in the afternoons and she loves it!

Butterfly was so excited for her first day of school. The week before we went to orientation and met her teacher, and saw her classroom, and dropped off her school supplies. The night before I had made sure that Butterfly had everything she needed for a successful first day of school: lunch money (she wanted to buy lunch at school), a somewhat healthy snack, her journal, a copy of her IEP for her teacher (not sure why her teacher didn't already have a copy, but anyway). clothes laid out, shoes ready. Monday morning came, and I had my alarm(s) set and we all got up early, and I fed the kids a good breakfast and we got out the door only two minutes late, which I tried not to freak out over.

We had decided to walk to school, so I got out the bike trailer/double jogging stroller, aka The Rocketship, and Little Man and Flower climbed in, which Butterfly was quite upset about, but once we got to school, she got over it. She was going to school! And Little Man and Flower weren't (which they were upset about). There was a new playground with big swings to play on, and friends that she knew, and most of all, she was going to school!

With her semi-shy way, Butterfly stayed by my side when we showed up at the school and joined the other parents on the periphery of the Kindergarten playground while the kids ran and played, dropping backpacks hither and there. Butterfly just observed, and beamed with excitement, and watched and smiled up at me as I tried to stuff my tears away for another time (which I was successful in doing - so successful in fact that they never came).

Then the first bell rang. Butterfly's very first bell of the Kindergarten year. Of her school career. Boy did that bring memories! The other kids lined up and Butterfly did as well. It was new, but it was old hat at the same time. The parents got to go into the classroom with the kids on the first day, so we all filed in. Kids mostly excited, but a little anxious, finding their seats with their names on their desks - all set up in clusters of five, facing each other. Parents, less excited and more anxious, stayed on the outside, forming a sort of protective ring around the students. The last barrier of toddlerhood, about to end; a new world beginning. The first day of the rest of their lives, for the children. The teacher went over a few things, while I tried to wrangle Little Man and Flower, as usual, and then parents were free to go. One last hug for Butterfly, who was eager to start learning, and we were out the door.

The door clicked shut behind us and suddenly I was the outside, and my first borne, my Butterfly, was on the inside. She was on her own, ready to learn and she had officially begun her school career. It was bittersweet.

Butterfly did go to school all of last year, and to the CDC in the mornings, but this feels different. She learned so much at school last year and did really well, and loved it, but the official "Kindergarten" milestone seems to mark something. It's big. It's the end of preschool, and the beginning of school age. It's five years old, and almost a quarter of the way through childhood. It's an end and a beginning. It's the first huge mark that Butterfly is growing up. That one day she will be an adult, on her own in the world, with responsibilities for herself and to others, and my influence will fade away as she grows and learns. It's the first time I really have to step back and let go and let her go on her own, and do her own thing. I am so glad that she loves school - that is a huge blessing. I hope that she never loses the joy of the learning, the thrill of discovery and the yearning to know and experience more.

(Pictures to come later.)

20 August 2014

Continuing the Journey

This school semester, I am continuing on my journey once again towards my Bachelor's degree. A journey that started back in 2003. Yes, over a decade ago.

What started out as a journey to be a meteorologist, and then changed to nursing, has now pretty much been cemented as a degree in General Studies. Basically this means that I have a lot of credits in a lot of different schools of the college, but not enough in any one to get a degree in it. For example, I have over 21 hours of biological science - but not the requirements for a Biology degree. I was in nursing school for a year and a half (part time), but am not a nurse. I've also got a lot of hours in psychology and English. What does this mean? I will have a very varied degree when I'm done. I'm know a little bit about a  moderate amount of subjects.

Even though I have not reached any of the destinations that I planned for, I have really enjoyed my journey as a college student. I would have preferred to go to school right out of high school and live at college and do the whole dorm experience and on campus experience, but when you make bad decisions when you're young, you live with the consequences. For me, that means night classes and on line classes spread out over a decade, with a big gap in the middle when I had my kids. Lord willing, I will graduate in the spring of 2015.

Two classes this fall. Two classes this spring. I'm really praying that I can finish.

So what am I taking this fall?

Well, one of the beautiful, wonderful things about a degree in General Studies is that you pretty much get to take whatever class you want, as long as you can get into it, and for me, as long it is an upper level course. So, I am taking Creative Writing I and the Literary Works of C. S. Lewis. I get to read The Chronicles of Narnia for college credit? How great is that!

I'm two days into classes and I've had quite the spectrum of feelings already about my classes, ranging from excitement to anxiety (I have to do a video presentation - I really abhor video presentations, I'd much rather do it in person) to enthusiasm (I get to read academic articles and research - yay!) to fear (both classes, for whom I have the same professor, have student-critiquing sections in which we all read each others' papers and critique them - what if what I write is awful?!?).

One of the things I love about college, is that it forces me to write. No matter how many goals I set for myself in regards to blogging, or working on my novel, I seem to fall short. I need accountability. I love to write, but it is a discipline (we're talking about that in class). So I am really hoping to start writing on my blog more often, just for the sake of writing. I realize that I will need to sacrifice to do this - this probably equates to less time on Facebook, which isn't a bad thing - and I need to follow through.

Even though I have started writing a novel, and I do want to have in it published one day, I have to come to realize that I still haven't figured out what I want to be when I grow up. I realize I'm in my 30's and that life is just zooming by, but I'm still working out how to do this thing called life and there are things that I want to do. Even though I said I gave up on being a nurse, I think I would still like to pursue that one day. There are other things that I want to do too. Maybe I'll be a "full time writer" one day, whatever that looks like, and maybe not. I don't think I'll ever stop writing, but will I do it as a profession one day? I don't know. I'm still figuring that out.

For now, I have taken a small step towards completing my college journey, and who knows, perhaps I've taken a small step towards something bigger. :)

18 August 2014

Created for Influence by William L. Ford

The world today is a place of uncertainty, fear and change. Sometimes it seems like the Church is powerless to shape and influence culture and community the way it once did. This is far from the truth though - Christians today have the tools to influence the world around them, in their local community and globally. Created for Influence: Transforming Culture from Where You Are by William L. Ford III shows Christians how they can be a positive influence right where they are, through prayer. If you are ready to join in the fight to change the world for the better, than this book is for you.

Ford's book was eye opening and enlightening. Often times one can feel quite helpless about the horrors that occur in our world - far away or even right down the street. Created for Influence is a powerful reminder that as a Christian, we have the ability to change the circumstances around us through prayer. With numerous Biblical insights and explanations, poignant and at times heart wrenching testimonies and Godly counsel, Ford provides example after example of how Christians can alter the course of destiny the way the Church once did.

I really enjoyed reading Ford's book. There were a few parts of the book that I felt were a little far-reaching, but overall I found Created for Influence to be a great guide for practicality in prayer in daily life. It was refreshing to know that there are prayer warriors on the front lines praying for the leaders in our nation and for the devastating problems that plague our people. I found this book to be very encouraging and a great reminder of what it really means to be a Christian.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Chosen, a division of Baker Publishing Group book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

19 July 2014

Wyoming Governor's Mansion

Back to blogging about our road adventure back in May!

One of the places that Maiden and Rick took us was the Wyoming Governor's Mansion and I absolutely loved it!

This beautiful and elegant house was home for the Governor's and their families that governed from 1904 to 1976; many dignitaries from around the country visited and were entertained here. The historical house has been open to the public for tours since 1977 and many of the furnishings dated back to the original 1904 style, although the kitchen, basement laundry and fall out shelter were done in 1950's style.

I could have spent All. Day. Long. Exploring this beautiful historic treasure, examining furnishings and wondering about who did what and sat where and thought about what in each room. But when you have five kiddos with you (four five years and under) and you're doing your best to keep them from touching things and running under the scarlet rope that cordons off some of the rooms (you can look, but can't go in), well, you just can't ponder things in a philosophical way. There was also an audio tour that you could do, but those really aren't possible if you also want to keep an eye and an ear on your small children.

Instead, it was a quick run through, sometimes literally, clicking pictures while holding hands and constantly reminding little ones not to touch and don't go in there! Even still, we were able to see every room and marvel at times gone by and the way people used to live in frontier Wyoming.

The Governor's Mansion: built in Colonial Revival style, with Corinthian columns added later.
The foyer - stairs are to the immediate right, formal dining room straight ahead.
The nursery, redone in the 1904 style. The first First family had five small children. The children chose this corner room because the windows looked down on the small yard and carriage house, and they could thereby talk to their pet pony through the windows.

One of the bedrooms, done in early 1900's style

The maid's room (one of two), on the "third" floor (the house is technically 2 1/2 stories).

The kitchen, done in 1950's style, big enough to cook for large gatherings of dignitaries.

My favorite room - the breakfast room, with windows over looking the yard and carriage house, where polling often took place for local elections. The other room that was my favorite was the main living room (where the books are), but I didn't get very good pictures of it. It was towards the end of the tour and the kids were quite restless by that time.

The laundry room in the basement - I may never look at laundry the same way again (this is only half of what it took to do laundry)

The Fallout Shelter, complete with bedding, food and games for the long winters below ground in case of nuclear fall out.

The office, done in Wyoming theme, complete with lots of bucking bronchos.

The Formal Dining Room
If you are ever in Cheyenne, I highly recommend checking out this piece of history - it was just lovely and it's very close to down town Cheyenne.

A last picture of four of the five happy tourists.