Thursday, August 26, 2010

New Girl in Town

There's an old saying that states, "Every boy should have two things: a dog, and a mother willing to let him have one."  Our little men are in luck, because as of yesterday, they have both!!

Meet our new little golden beauty, Stella.

Benedict is a natural care-taker.  He's so attentive of her already!
Time to play!

Steve's experience with retrievers will come in handy when teaching the boys how to care for Stella.

Ahh, another female in the family....we gotta stick together!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Counting Hairs

I'm still contemplating the joys and journeys of our trip taken last week. In summation, I would have to say that the highlights were not breathtaking views of mountains and waterfalls, grand arches and architecture, but rather the simple moments I experienced.  Moments where my heart was awakened to the intensity of love in my life, love that surrounds me each in every day no mater where I am.  Love that is more profoundly felt when the opportunity is taken to slow down and...

hold a hand,

sit and visit for a while,

share in small delights, 

cuddle up and listen to favorite music, 

wonder at the gifts and talents of others,

and to remember that our Father loves us without measure, and has counted even the very hairs on our head (Matthew 10:30).

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Last Stop: Saint Louis

We are officially back home, plowing through a mountain of mail, making lists, packing boxes and trying to transition from an incredible family "trip" back to the routine we temporarily escaped from.  Before I get swept out in the tide of details into the sea of transition to the farm, I wanted to post a few final tidbits about the conclusion to our eastward advance which took place in St. Louis.

As always, we make grand plans to see this and that when we travel, but reality (and fatigue) sets in and we only end up meeting a slice of our mega-pie of goals.  The chosen slice in this case was seeing the grand Arch, the gateway to the west, the monument dedicated to the brave company of explorers who set out to experience and map out the great expanse west of the Mississippi River.  Forging such an ambitious architectural endeavor as the Arch was impressive to say the least, and we enjoyed every moment of our tour.

(This was a very happy day, because it began in a very happy way - Thank you, Starbucks!)

I am posting a couple of different pics of the Arch under the pressure of my son, Benedict who insisted that I take my tiny camera and snap as many angles of the enormous structure as possible (without kids, because they would literally be specks- zoom in on the kids and they are just standing in front of a big piece of sheet metal.  Arch pics now, kid pics later!).
(Begging child buzzing like a gnat in my ear, "take it from here, mom!")
We rode in a small space-pod like contraption to the top - 630 feet above ground.  There, we could look out small windows to see what the fearless construction crew saw of their beloved city as the worked tirelessly to complete their mission.  Talk about sweaty palms and ceaseless prayers!
Taking it all in - a break on the green space just beyond the Arch along the mighty Mississippi.

After we learned how the arch was built via a video inside the museum, it changed our perspective on the landmark's beauty.

Sigh...just because I love them soooo much.  Even the backs of their heads are adorable.  (Oh, yeah, and that's the Eade's Bridge in the distance - the first major example of bridgework exemplifying the cantilever system.)

OK - enough about landmarks, natural wonders and climbing and canoeing adventures - let's talk about treats.  I can remember almost every trinket and treasure I ever bought on family vacations with my hard-earned babysitting money.  How could I expect anything less that enthusiastic shoppers from my boys??  Waiting for lunch gave them ample time to share and compare goodies.  We loved watching them celebrate!  Benedict with his Lewis and Clark replica compass. Good thing for that - we now have navigation assistance on the way home.

George - I love how you couldn't wait to bust into your Early Explorer Fact Cards - colored pencils and sharpener included.  Yeah for school in disguise!

Can't pass up a good book, can ya, Andrew??  Pony Express, eh?? Mm Hmm...Andrew....Andrew???  Never mind. (We're in a serious story-zone here.)

Henry:  "I'll take a nap in daddy's arms and....

an extra scoop of ice-cream.  A sweet ending to a sweet trip!!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The beautiful bluegrass state - Kentucky

After spending a few days in the beautiful state of Tennessee, we traveled on to the bluegrass state of Kentucky.  Our destination was Mammoth Cave, and the drive there (on winding narrow highways and bi-ways) gave us a more scenic view of the countryside, quaint little towns and beautiful farms.  The people in both TN and KY were so kind, and very hospitable. It is always refreshing to leave home, venture outside your comfort zone, outside of what is familiar and see how others live, what is important to them, and where the places are that they call home.  Our country's heart and soul is not it's government, it's the people - the ordinary people who are strong, family-loving, hard working, and generous. I was encouraged, and reminded that our country is indeed a very special place, and it is so because of it's people!

Horseback riding, zip-lining, canoeing and a magnificent cave tour offered unforgettable moments for all of us.  I took almost 100 pictures of our adventures.  Here are just a few of our great moments:

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Four Little Rascals, an RV and Rocky Top Tennessee...

A couple of years ago, Steve and I came to the definitive conclusion that there are two main types of "get-aways": a trip and a vacation. A trip is when you spend three days packing enough clothes and loot to weigh down the back of your van so much that you have to stop by a gas station on the way out of town and put air in your back tires. In addition, you must squeeze all of your children into the van with backpacks full of treasures, entertainment and snacks. Finally, the front seats must be wedged with maps, tour brochures, caffinated beverages, and a lengthly list of rules about whining, elbows, potty stops, begging, fists, oh and did I mention whining?? A vacation is when you and your husband go somewhere alone and it does not involve any of the above mentioned descriptives.

We are currently on a trip. With the boys. In an RV. (Steve's idea.)

Here are some of the highlights of our "trip" thus far!: