Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Pacing Yourself Back to School





If you’re anything like me, it seems as if I am just beginning to enjoy summer vacation and it’s time to think about going back to school. For most parents, this is a “hallelujah” event. For me, I dig my heels in kicking and screaming. I enjoy having my children home with me and I enjoy the unscheduled slower days of summertime.

However, the school season will come, whether I’m ready for it or not. And with the struggling economy, it can really hit the budget hard if you have multiple children you need to buy supplies for. I found a great way that works for me in easing the strain on my wallet. I try to start buying supplies as soon as I have the supply list in my hands. I buy a few at a time – not everything. That way, I can spread out my funds over a few weeks or a month or two (if you get your list that early). It also gives me time to visit a few different stores and compare prices. My kids can pick and choose a little easier what it is they’d like and it’s just not a lump sum that hits me hard all at once.

A lot of people also go clothes shopping for the new school year. I have never done that. My girls grow all year long so they need new clothes all year long! If I bought them just one big pile of clothes at the beginning of the year, I know they would not last. So what we do is purchase one outfit. A first day of school outfit. We also get gym or sports shoes if they are needed. This way, my kids feel fresh and confident on the first day, but also know as they grow out of jeans or need things throughout the year, that it will be easier for me as their mom to take them out to purchase them.

We don’t always get a new lunchbox or a new school bag. If theirs is still in good shape, they use the one they have from last year. We wash it or clean it out. On average I would say that my girls have needed a new backpack or bag every other year. This also teaches them to take care of what they have!

It’s not just finances that hit me hard when school resumes. It’s routine. There are certain things that – let’s face it – we as parents sometimes try to “squish” in because they are important to us. Like first day of school pictures.  But mornings can sometimes be hectic (especially if you have girls who want to “pretty” up). Often, my girls will have a ½ day of school on the first day. So instead of taking pictures before school, there has been a time or two that I’ve taken them when they’ve gotten home from school. With little ones, this may not be as feasible as they run and play harder but as your kids get into junior high and high school – it is totally reasonable to take a picture once they get home. Plus they aren’t as stressed and nervous about the first day!

I’ve found that things are easier if I’m more workable. We don’t always have to do things a certain way. I don’t have to have a big breakfast on the first day of school but some fun chocolate mini donuts are just as exciting. Be flexible. Be positive. And listen to your children’s temperament as they prepare for a new school year. If you have the right outlook and attitude, everything can be fun. Even school!


Sunday, July 29, 2012

God Can Work With You




I was reading someone’s blog one day when I ran across a comment that just stood alone on the page in front of me. She said, “God accomplishes His will either way.”

Wow.

God accomplishes His will whether I work with Him or against Him. Have you ever thought about that? Sometimes I feel like I’m a stumbling block to God. But I’m making God far smaller than He is when I think that way. NOTHING is a stumbling block to God – not my pride, not my hard-headedness, not my pity or loathing, nothing. God can work with my life and in my life no matter what choices I make along the way. He can work with it.

That’s strangely reassuring to me because there are so many times where I double-guess myself and wonder if I took the wrong route or if God really intended for me to be on the road that I am on. I forget to see that my God is bigger than my life. I fail to see that nothing hinders Him. If God has an agenda with me – believe it or not – He WILL accomplish that agenda! He WILL get a certain message across to me if that is His intention and He WILL direct my paths whether I want them directed or not! Because He is God.

There is no need to doubt or beat myself up about messing things up. My life or your life will never be a total loss because God can work with it. Sure, sometimes we may make things harder on ourselves, but I don’t believe we make them harder for God. He simply shapes and molds us in different ways and at different times because of our own choices.

If you feel like you are a lost cause at times – don’t. If you wonder if God can do anything through you – YES, He can.  He wants to accomplish His will in my life and in your life.  Why not work with Him instead of against Him? 

Friday, July 27, 2012

It's My Birthday!

Today is my birthday. And no - I don't mind telling you that I am turning 41. Last year I had a harder time than I thought I would turning 40. But now, I've made peace with it and I'm enjoying being 41.  I'm a lot more comfortable with who I am at this age and I'm so thankful for my life.

So - no deep thoughts from me today. I'm off "playing" and celebrating ME with my family.




3 Great Reasons To Have Your Birthday In July:

1. The sun is always shining. And I LOVE warm weather and the sun!

2. Because it's in the summer, you get to sleep in! You don't have to get up and take your kiddos to school. YAY!

3.  It's more fun to eat ice cream than in the winter and you can wear cuter tops instead of being wrapped up in a huge sweater!

So yay for summer birthdays! :)

Enjoy a quick "flashback" of my 41 years of life. :)

~ Dionna











Wednesday, July 25, 2012

How Do You Keep a Life Exciting?



The older I get (and I have to keep telling myself I’m not that old yet), the more I see myself living life in a certain sense of rhythm or pattern. It’s unintentional. It just happens. You get married, have kids, they enter school, you or your husband has a job, church – then sports activities get added into the mix, etc. A pattern of living life.

A pattern of living life is not a bad thing. Many people find security in it. I find security in some of it. But I also see the quest on many people’s part to rediscover excitement and adventure. After all, changing a diaper can be an adventure – but it’s not exactly what we’d refer to as excitement! 

Life can grow to be mundane. Predictable.

I think this is why in middle age; many of us have what people call a “mid-life” crisis. We see where we’ve been and we don’t want to head on the same standard path. We want some excitement thrown into our lives!

So the question then begs to be asked, “How DO you keep a life exciting?”

I don’t have the most perfect answer to that question. But I do have an answer. I think “change” is what keeps a life exciting. And that’s the very thing that scares a lot of us. But it works.

Change adds excitement to a life. When you move; the new home and the new neighborhood – they are exciting. When you get a new job; the new job is fresh and exciting. A new town has exciting people and restaurants. It’s all change.

So from my perspective and from where I sit; changing things up in your life is what keeps a life exciting.

If you find yourself stuck in a rut or growing blue with the “same-o-same-o” in your life – try switching things up a bit. Change your daily schedule. Change what you do. Go to a new hairdresser or a different restaurant. Try adding a new hobby into your life or volunteer somewhere. You can go big or small. You can change big things like a home, career, or city. You can change smaller things like a car, furniture arrangement, or hairstyle.

But change SOMETHING.  We only get one life. And sometimes we make our lives too small by staying in the “same.” For some of us, that’s perfect. That’s how we were built. We like “same.” For others of us, we need change to spice up our lives and give us something to hope for or get excited about from time to time.

Some changes are temporary of course and others are permanent. Some changes leave lasting effects of spark and excitement in our lives, while others are only fleeting. Sometimes we are often even surprised at what it is that adds motivation and inspiration with longevity into our days.

Change isn’t as terrifying as everyone thinks it is. Especially when it’s you making the decision to do something instead of having it forced upon you. It can be refreshing and yes….exciting.

Sometimes all we need is a little push to make a decision or change that is much needed.

So go for it. You can start as small or as big as you want to. Just make sure it’s a positive move for your life. Then watch the electricity of the excitement it adds flow through your heart.

Life IS exciting. Now go rediscover it.

Monday, July 23, 2012

And Yet We Still Ask For More




How soon we forget. We are a people that are so quick to forget what the Lord has done for us. In the moment, we are blessed, thankful, and even humble. But then time goes on and we resume our life – one that is focused and central on “us.” And we forget.

We forget everything that God did for us. We forget His grace and mercy handed down to us in that moment when we should have received a different outcome. We forget all the times He has rescued us. Intervened. Given us something simply because He could.

So we come to today – right now. And we ask for more.  We ask for more as if He has never done anything for us. We tend to whine and gripe and complain wondering why He doesn’t answer us. But what we really mean is, “why doesn’t He answer us with a ‘yes?’”

If God never did one more thing for us in our lives, He still would have done EVERYTHING for us by dying on the cross and saving us from an eternity in hell. He doesn’t have to do one more thing for us because He’s already done more than any one of us could ever comprehend. Something that none of us would step up to the plate to do – and even if we did – we wouldn’t be able to accomplish what He did. Salvation.

So, yes. I still ask God for things. I still want His intervention and His divine hand to come down and pardon me. Rescue me. Spare me. Heal me. And that’s okay. As long as I remember what He’s already done for me.  

Friday, July 20, 2012

What Kind of Faith Do We Have?




Faith.

Our faith. It seems to waffle and waver so much these days. We seem to flounder so easily when God doesn’t swoop in and deliver us from _______ (insert your request into that space.)

It’s as if we only want to love and serve God if He says “yes” to us. Our faith is only vibrant if God comes through for us.

What kind of faith is that? To only trust when we are spared or rescued?

I know….I KNOW that my faith is strengthened when I have to go through tough and challenging things. I don’t like them. They are hard on me. But I know that God refines me through those fires in my life.  And my faith grows stronger so that the next fire I go through, I’m not quite as easily shaken. Not quite as moveable by satan. Not quite as tempted.

Because I’ve learned. I’ve grown. I have not caved.  If I cave; then I have to go through that same lesson again. And again. And again. And I can see why people abandon their faith. For we just want easy. We want the “rescue.” We want the healing.

And it doesn’t always come.

I look to the men and women in the Bible and I see how they had such a strong, solid faith. They believed in God with steadfast hearts and so often, He delivered them. But when He did not, they still trusted. Sure, they may have cried out to Him. They may have gotten discouraged – but they still served Him.  And so often God rewarded them for that.

You see, faith is not conditional. It’s not temporary. You can’t put it on a shelf and grab it only when the occasion demands it. Faith is a lifestyle. It’s a choice. It’s something you ARE.  Faith is something you reach inside and find when God doesn’t heal. It’s something you cling to when God says “no.” And it’s something that helps you rebuild when He doesn’t spare you pain.

What kind of a faith do we have?

How much do we love this God we serve?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

He Matters




It was on our road trip to the East Coast. We stopped in a small town in New Mexico to grab some fast food for dinner. As we were sitting at our table, we saw what appeared to be a homeless man walk across the street towards our window.

It’s sad to me, that our first thought was, “avoid eye contact.” How selfish and shallow are we.

But he didn’t even look at us or inside. He dug through a trashcan a little bit, then went around the restaurant and did the same thing and started on his way. In this time period, my family all started discussing him. Could we give him money? No, not a good idea? Food?

My husband and daughter decided to go outside and tell him that if he’d wait, they would buy him a burger. But they were too late. He was already gone.

After dinner, my daughter wanted to try and go find him. I didn’t imagine we would and didn’t want to go in scary places to try and look – plus we did need to get back on the road.

My husband went up the road a little bit to turn and get on a road that took us back on the freeway. And there we saw him. Coming across the parking lot of a convenience store.

We turned around and followed him down a side street where we were finally able to pull up beside him and roll down the window.

I admit. I was still nervous. I had the car doors locked. His hair was ratty. Very ratty. I don’t know when the last time was that he’d had a shower or washed his hair and it showed. His pants were baggy.

My husband said, “Excuse me. We saw you back at the Burger King and were wondering….are you hungry?”

At first, he said something in a quiet voice. None of us could hear him or understand and his head was looking at the ground. My husband asked again – “Are you hungry?”

He looked up and I made eye contact with him. In a quiet voice he said, “I’m okay.” So what could we do? We said okay and proceeded on our way.

I can’t get his eyes out of my head. He looked younger than I’d guessed he’d be. With a tattoo beside his left eye. And a beard. But pretty eyes.

And as we pulled away, my heart also was pulled. Who was he? What was his story? How did he wind up that way?

And God spoke to my heart.

He matters.

HE MATTERS. 

I pray he matters to someone else. Does he have a father or a mother who love him? A sibling? Is someone out there who cares deeply and is praying for him or did he come from a rough home and has lived a rough life always?

I don’t know.

But he matters. 

He matters to God.

And at that moment in time, I was reminded how many walk our streets feeling like they don’t matter. They can’t lift their heads to meet our eyes. They look down. They don’t feel worthy. They don’t feel loved. They don’t know how to help themselves.

They need us.

We can go all around the world. But we have people at home, on our own land, who are sick. Homeless. Lost. Lonely.

They need us.

For they matter. Each one. Even if they make you a bit nervous.

What will you do the next time you see someone who is so apparently on the street?
Will you turn your head? Drive away? Or at least ask if you can offer them a hand?

I just know more of us need to be affected. Touched. And our consciences pricked.

For they matter.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Our Little Music Video

My husband had the great idea to make a little music video on our 3 week road trip. We had lots of fun doing it.

Enjoy!

   

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Bittersweet


Thank you all so much for your faithful prayers. God protected us on our 3 week adventure.  We had near miss car accidents, swimmers ear, missed major, deadly storms in many states by a mere day at times, and avoided heat exhaustion and a possible food poisoning. 

As on our previous road trips, we made many treasured memories.  For me, I love this land that God has granted me to be born in – all the more. The U.S.A is so beautiful. So diverse. So fun!



Home.

We are now home.  And with it comes hearts of thankfulness and bittersweet feelings.

I am so happy to finally be in my own bed. I can pick out a shirt from my closet instead of a suitcase, and I can be thankful to drive in traffic that I know is no way near as bad as Dallas, Austin, New York, or Atlanta.

Yet I miss the greenery and the beauty of many states that we drove through. I miss the history that some people are so fortunate to live and walk amongst daily. I will miss the weather and the moisture in the air.

I have now seen what is out there. God has shown me what to be thankful for, and what I might want to become a part of my life. 

But for now, I hope to catch up on some much needed sleep as my body relearns what time zone it is in. I plan to have some homemade meals and love on my kitties. And do a ton of laundry. HA HA!

Home. Home to me is where my family is. And that has been a lot of places in the last 3 weeks. But it is good to have a home base where your things are yours and you can rely on some of your own familiar comforts.


So as I remember what it is that God has shown me He has blessed me with here at this home base of ours; I also long for what I shall miss. For each piece is now a part of my heart.  And all those pieces make up a bittersweet homecoming.

I am blessed. I am thankful. May I use what I have seen and experienced to make a brighter future for myself and my family.




Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Sight Seeing Along the Way


We are slowly making our long trek home.  We left Canada on Monday and the past couple of days have gone through Michigan, Ohio and Iowa.

We cancelled our motel reservations for Tuesday night and drove almost three hours further up the road to minimize our drive time for Wednesday.  So we were able to take our time heading out this morning, which was nice. We were also able to steer off the main highway as our mood saw fit --- and it did a couple of times.

We went through Madison County and saw some signs for covered bridges so we stopped by a couple. Pretty cool! We also ended up driving by John Wayne’s birthplace.

Then we veered off the road to see a tree that is in the middle of the road. They just built the road around it! That was fun.  I touched the big old tree and was thinking about how old it must be. (My dad – a former timber manager, would be so proud!) I looked up at it and said, “How old are you big guy?” And my girls thought it was hysterical. My daughter said, “Are you talking to the tree?”  Yes, yes, I was, girls.




Anyways, a little further up the road in Iowa, we had planned to stop and see the only working Danish windmill in the U.S. I thought it would be pretty cool. Imagine our disappointment when we got there to see men working on the windmill! We could barely get a picture without them on the sides of it and it wasn’t “working.” Pooh! We all lamented about it and wondered why they couldn’t pick a better time to work on it like early morning???  Especially when there were quite a few signs off the freeway advertising it.

Oh well. I do think we discovered the shortest phone booth, though! HA HA



So – now we are driving through Nebraska. Getting closer to home; which brings bittersweet feelings. 

Yes, definitely bittersweet feelings.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Detours and Niagara


We spent Saturday night in Vermont. It was a cute little town – although I don’t remember the name. Very hilly and on Sunday morning when we left, we saw quite a few people walking and jogging.

Sunday seemed to be the “day of detours.” It started just a short distance from our motel. We were to take the scenic route to Canada but a covered bridge was closed off and so our GPS just didn’t really know how to handle that. She (our GPS voice), took us up and around this big hill back to the same exact bridge. We did not know how to cross the river so we finally pulled over and a jogger who had seen us on the road below offered her help (because it was so apparent we were lost!) She told us how to go down about 3 miles and get to another junction to get out of town.

Later on in the day, we were going through another small town and a fire truck was blocking the main road not letting any cars through. Again, our GPS did not know what to do because she just kept rerouting us back to the road we could not go on. So we pulled over at a country Baptist church and asked for help. Again, nice strangers guided us out of town!

I saw about 3 wild turkeys, a fox, and a couple of deer on this day.  Although even though we saw “moose crossing” and “horse crossing” signs – alas, I was so bummed to not see either. Especially the moose as I had my camera ready.



But, due to the two rerouting incidents, which cost us hours of time, we were not able to stop at some of our quaint little roadside stops that we thought we might be able to.

We arrived in Canada just before 5pm and discovered long lines of cars waiting to go across the bridge to Niagara Falls. We were in the line about 45 minutes but finally got through. We were all bummed later to discover that they didn’t even stamp “Canada” on our passports! But I guess we could count ourselves lucky. The guy at our motel said sometimes on holidays like the 4th of July, the line of cars have to wait 4 hours to get through customs! How miserable that would be!

We spent the night at a beautiful motel that had a stunning view of Niagara Falls. The first thing I saw when walking into my room was the falls and a rainbow. So gorgeous.  And that night they had a fireworks show that we got to watch from our room window. Pretty cool!



We walked around a bit on Monday morning, snapped some photos, and then packed up and headed out of town.  Not even in town 24 hours.



But it’s time to start heading home.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Boston and Maine


We left New York and made a pit stop at Avery’s Sodas along the way.  We purchased a case of flavored soda. Each one of us got 6 picks. The first ones we tried were super fun. My husband chose Birch Beer; which we all decided tastes exactly like a peppermint Breath Mint. It was funny – he couldn’t even drink the whole thing.



We arrived in Boston Thursday evening. Once again we were wiped out, so we ordered pizza in our room. Such a good decision and it gave us the time to get organized a little which is really needed when you live out of a suitcase for 3 weeks!

Friday morning we drove to the “T” station and caught the rail train in to Boston. We followed the trail around the city that highlights Old Boston and shows you the history of the city. I really enjoy seeing our history up close and wish we lived around it in the Northwest. It’s amazing that people can walk right by something that has been so pivotal for our country as a nation.

We saw the oldest surviving gravestone (from the 1600's!), some of the signers of the Declaration of Independence gravesites, saw Old North Church where Paul Revere attended (and where the famous lanterns that signified the British were coming were hung), the old South Meeting House, the site of the Boston Massacre, Paul Revere’s house and more.




Our feet were SO sore. But we plunged on. We ate lunch at Fenuil Hall where there was tons of food and hardly anywhere to eat it. We had to stand which didn’t help our tired feet any. But it was good. My girls each chose pizza (again.) My husband ate a BBQ burger and I got mac and cheese that was cooked in mozzarella, basil and had tomatoes in it. Very good – I was full. 

We enjoyed some of the local talent here and there performing for the tourists and even had time to do a little shopping.

I especially liked Old Boston which was so “yesteryear.”

Saturday, we got up, packed once again,  and hit the road. We drove through New Hampshire and stopped in Portland, Maine for a few hours.  It was so pretty and charming! It was just adorable.

We were hungry so we set out to find a place to eat lunch first thing.  We decided on  a place that had a sign that said Coca Cola but once we set down we found out they had Pepsi. My husband mentioned something about “wanting to cry.” He just can’t drink any other soda other than coke.  HA HA So we all got water. The girls got chicken fingers, I tried a grilled chicken sandwich on Panini bread and my husband got a haddock sandwich. We are not a “seafood” family but he wanted to try it since we were in Maine after all! He said it was good. I know it looked huge – he couldn’t eat all the fish.

We then roamed around Old Port for about 45 minutes. Found an awesome jewelry store where I bought 2 bracelets and a leather ring and my oldest got a leather ring and a headband. I could have bought more in there! 

We found a candy store and I decided to treat each member of my family to one of those fancy chocolates that you see in the glass case. We never get those.  My youngest and I chose the dark chocolate truffle (which let me just say was divine.) My oldest daughter got a dark chocolate covered oreo and my husband chose a milk chocolate almond piece. We all relished our selections.

We then went down to the Wharf and caught an hour and half boat ride by some lighthouses. This was a lot of fun and very enjoyable to get off land for a brief bit. We saw some seals and some stunning houses along the shoreline. Just a refreshing jaunt for a brief spell.


Thursday, July 5, 2012

A Taste of New York


We arrived in New York on Tuesday afternoon. We were excited because we were actually ahead of schedule; but when we left DC, my daughter had told us…” I think I’m getting an ear infection.” Yikes. Definitely not in the plan! So we went back and forth with my daughter on the subject. Do we take her in somewhere and risk the chance that it’s NOT an ear infection? Do we wait? The next day was the 4th of July. We knew if she got worse that a holiday was not the time to try and deal with something.

So – she decided to go in and be seen. She wasn’t feeling terrible, but having on and off again pain. We were staying on the New Jersey side outside of New York. Got directions to an urgent care clinic nearby from our motel and here is where the saga begins. Our gps could not find it for starters. It took us a lot longer and a phone call to discover we were given the wrong address. We arrive to a fairly full room and about a 2 hr wait. I had no idea we’d be waiting that long.  It was so cold in there, I was a popsicle. Finally got in and got her seen and found out she had gotten swimmer’s ear from the motel in Texas.  So we got her prescription and planned to get it filled at Wal-Mart up the road. Grabbed Subway for a late lunch and headed up. I ran in to drop it off only to find the pharmacy closed. What? Really? Found out they wouldn’t be back until 2. It was 1:30.

So we eat lunch in the car and I run back in just before 2 so as to get front in line. They open and the gal tells me they are out of this medicine. Great. She suggests going next door to Sam’s Club. I ask if they have it because I don’t want to run all over town. She calls them and they too, are out. Really? I begin to see how this is going to go.

I wearily go back out to the car and inform everyone. We finally decide to just go into Manhattan and find a drug store in there. It’s been about 4 hours now and we don’t want to waste anymore time. Turns out this was a good plan as once we arrived into Times Square we immediately saw a Walgreens. Sooo thankful we got it filled! And the decision to go to the doctor was a good one because my daughter started hurting a lot more by evening when we could start using the ear drops.

Anyways…..that was our introduction to New York healthcare. HA HA 

We LOVED Manhattan and Times Square. Sooo fun! We walked around, shopped, went into the edge of Central Park where we saw a rat and a butterfly that loved to land on my youngest (to her delight.) 


We walked by Rockefeller Plaza and saw the Today Show studio from outside. We walked and walked and walked.


On July 4th, we headed back into town and went up to Grand Central Station. We rode the subway. It was funny as we tried to figure out the ticket system and when I swiped mine, my turnstile didn’t open. I thought it opened automatically. My whole family was already through and my youngest says, “Mom, you just do this,” and she rotates mine. Now my card wouldn’t work because it thought I’d already gone through. So I had to climb over the turnstile.

We went down to Ground Zero. I think the thing that got me the most was seeing the new towers in the sky. So similar to before. Getting so tall. But the fountains and memorial were very nicely done, as well.


We went down to Battery Park and saw the Statue of Liberty. Ate at a great local deli that a security guard recommended to us. Went down Canal Street with vendors. Some were so pushy I’d leave the stores. Others hilarious. But you could barter and get some good deals and even though it was super hot, it was fun. My oldest daughter made some sweet deals and was having fun with her “gift” of bartering.

Went down 5th Avenue, Madison Avenue, saw the Empire State Building, and Brooklyn Bridge. We had a couple street side window seats where we ate which was also fun.

We tried to go to F.A. O. Schwartz but they closed at 7 and we arrived shortly after. We also didn’t make it to Macy’s or Wall Street. But the city is so alive, that everything is fun to walk by, photograph, look at, and smell.

We decided to watch the New York fireworks in the evening. We didn’t want to get stuck in a crazy situation but a couple of nice NYPD police officers told us things were spread out and it was really good. So we went down early evening to find a place to stake out. It was already filling up.  Find a curb only to have a lady leaking ice  which promptly poured down into our seats getting them all wet. So we moved. The second spots were in the sun. Our tushes got so hot from the hot sidewalk we had to stand once in awhile because they were burning! And we were getting miserably hot. So we moved again.

This time we felt we were in a fairly good spot. As the crowds kept filling up they made people move forward and start to squish. I get a little claustrophobic when I don’t have room to move but we were back by a half wall thing and people were starting to sit and stand up there so my husband helped me climb up. I was happy. I didn’t feel like I’d get trampled (after my feet had gotten walked on so many times, I can’t count) and I could see better.  Well, we were only there maybe a half hour – 45 minutes when the whole wall was full of people and the cops come on a loud speaker and tell us all to get down. I know they want us safe – but honestly, I felt safer up there than down below!


By the time fireworks started, we were pretty squished. Once they started, they were awesome even though a building blocked a little of our view. And then people started saying , “Excuse me” and coming back through because they wanted to move and couldn’t see. That was irritating.

But all in all it was a great experience and lots of fun. The fireworks were awesome and we waited about 15-20 minutes to leave so that I didn’t panic amidst all the pushing and shoving to get out. It was busy, but a roomy busy getting out at that point. 

I think overalll, despite the fireworks crowd and the medical experience we had, we loved Manhattan.   Times Square is awesome. I could have spent another night down there just looking at all the people and lights.  So glad I could finally visit!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Fun In Pennsylvania


We went to Philadelphia today.  We stopped in some Amish country and it was gorgeous. We got so excited to see the Amish buggies and people. I wanted to take pictures and everyone was laughing at me because they’d ask me if I got a picture and I’d say, “I missed it,” or “it was blurry!”  It was because I was so nervous to offend the Amish people that I didn’t want them to catch me taking a picture!

We did stop at a little stand and buy some fresh blueberries from an Amish man. They were very good and he was sweet. It was fun to talk to him for a minute. He tried to get me to buy more – tomatoes or potatoes but I explained to him that we were on a road trip and I just couldn’t use them at that time. But if I lived near them? I’d definitely be buying their produce – it all looked so good.



We also stopped at a little store and I was close to buying what I thought was a little zip bag made by an Amish woman only to discover it had a “made in India” tag on it. That didn’t work for me so I passed.

We preceded on into Philadelphia. We got recommendations from the visitor center of where somewhere decent to eat lunch was nearby and my husband had his first Philly Cheese Steak. I just had a BLT and shared some excellent fries with him.

Then we went on to wait in a super long line for the Liberty Bell where a girl behind me touched one of my curls. I felt it, turned around and she looked at me really oddly and acted nonchalant about the whole thing. And so did her friends as I looked at them. I found it really odd that someone would reach out and touch a complete stranger’s hair! Not that it hurt me or anything – it’s just not something I would do.

We then went in and saw the Liberty Bell.  I always wish I could just sit and stare at pieces of history like this for awhile. All by myself. Just look and ponder. But alas, the majority of other visitors wouldn’t let me and we went on our way.

After taking a wrong turn and getting back on track, we found our way to Elfreth’s Alley. Supposedly the oldest street in the country. It was so adorable! A tiny little cobblestone street with darling houses on it. Super cute and I could just picture myself back in time. 



We also walked past Christ Church which was where Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Betsy Ross, and 15 other people who signed the Declaration of Independence attended church. Can you imagine? I’m thinking that Pastor might have been quite inspirational to speak to so many influential people! Two other stops we made that we simply stumbled upon were Betsy Ross’s house and Benjamin Franklin’s grave.

It was a fun day and we enjoyed the outside sunshine. Even though it was warm, it wasn’t near as hot as Washington DC yesterday!

Tomorrow we drive into NYC and we will be there on the 4th of July. I’m very nervous about traffic, security, and just being in that city with a quadrillion million other people. But I know it will also be exciting.  It’s hard to comprehend that we are on the other side of the states from home.

Such a diverse nation. 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Always An Adventure


So Friday we left Georgia and made it through thick traffic outside of Atlanta and arrived in Charlotte, NC later than we’d planned (due to the traffic.) We quickly unloaded so that we could check out the town. I have to say it is one of the prettiest cities I’ve been in. Trees and greenery everywhere. Brick homes, a darling downtown (uptown) area. Our whole family was charmed.

We headed out on Saturday with no clue as to how many more “lines” we’d be in. Once again we ran into several thick traffic situations in Virginia and we kept thinking “where are all of these people going?” Just crawling on the freeway is frustrating when it creeps into your vacation time and you only have a day in a city!

So we finally stop in a small city at a Wendy’s. There were tons of cars in the parking lot and we go inside to find a super long line. I grab a table, tell my husband what I want and go sit down. Let me just say that at one point the line was longer than when we entered. It went halfway around the inside of the restaurant! They only had one register working I guess.

The girls and I were going to use the restroom before we left and the line was too long so we figured we could use a rest stop up the road. We waited a good hour or two before my husband decided he’d also get gas. We pull off into one small town and the lines from the gas stations (two of them) are out the parking lot onto the road. What the heck? There was no way we were waiting in those! We decided to go further since we still had some gas. We went maybe a half hour or 45 more minutes up the road and pulled off to another busy gas station. By this time, we are all getting frustrated with having to wait everywhere we go.

My husband is trying to find the lane that is moving the quickest and the girls and I run inside to use the restroom. While in the bathroom, I hear a lady talking about how the gas stations are out of power but this one is starting to work. Oh my goodness – what? I talk to her afterwards and she explains that all the gas stations south are still out of power so if we need gas to get it here because this station was working a little.

I run out to tell my husband as he was just pulling up to a pump from the line. Several other people come over to see if ours was working and only the most expensive gas was working but we decided to go for it. Everything was starting to make sense.

I guess there was a huge storm in Virginia, Ohio, DC, and West Virginia the night before. Power was out and a lot of things were affected. Gas stations. The register at Wendy’s down – etc. Click. It was all making sense.



We didn’t care at this point about saving $5. We got the most expensive gas and were on our way. Heading into DC amidst rumors that power was out and another storm was coming.

Luckily, the power was NOT out in our motel. Nor did another bad storm come. But we did see tree limbs down all over and broken trees. The residue from the storm was apparent. So glad we missed it by one day!

That was the good news. The bad news was that our motel got our room wrong. We were supposed to have two queen beds but instead we had one king bed and a pull-out couch. As the motel was booked full, there was nothing we could do. Bless my girls’ hearts as they cheerily said it was okay and they could deal with it.

We unloaded, found directions to the metro and ran into the city for a few hours. We walked at least a mile to the Lincoln memorial, World War 2, Korean and Vietnam Memorials. We got caught in a little rain but nothing bad and we collapsed back our motel near 11pm. We hadn’t had dinner and so we ordered a pizza and ended up eating a delicious hot Dominoes pizza at midnight. It hit the spot enough to fill our tired and empty tummies. (Thanks Dominoes!)

Sunday, we didn’t get up quite as early, but still headed out in the morning. We visited the White House, the American History Smithsonian, National Archives, Canadian Embassy, and the Capitol. We didn’t make it to the Library of Congress before it closed. Boo!

Let me just say the day was HOT. HOT and HUMID. We were dripping. But all in all it was a good day and a shower has never felt so good! We finally got in fairly early and had time to do a little laundry and just relax for a few. It was needed.

Tomorrow we are headed into Philadelphia as our journey continues.  Thank you so much for your faithful prayers. We continue to embrace them as we travel on.


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