Thursday, July 31, 2008

Family Fun Memories

A highlight for the girls during these two weeks was lots of cousin time. Unfortunately my girls are short on cousins – they have a mere 4 first cousins in the whole world. Two of their cousins are adults and the other two cousins live 2000 miles away. So, they were in cousin heaven. They had various sleepovers, outings, and even a tea party with cousin Andrea and Grandma. They also got to go on a few outings with Grandma and Grandpa. We also stayed just a bit longer and were able to see P’s Aunt Marge from Hawaii. We were all thankful for this time with P’s family.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Full Week

I thought we might have some down time/catch up time this week. But it turned out to be busy with 7 dentist appointments, 5 hair cuts, 4 meetings with mission organizations and then the most important – family time (after all that is why we are here in WI)! We loved getting to see P’s family. The kids were especially thrilled to have the much anticipated cousin time. We were also glad to have time to explore the various mission organizations. One day we even spent over 8 hours talking to two different organizations – whew! Long day! But I’ll tell you more about that in another entry.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

7/24/08 Horsing Around, Again

We had the privilege of another visit with the Kelly family. Not only were the girls delighted to have some more time with their kids, but they also got to ride their horses. That was a huge treat for my new found horse lovers – a definite highlight for them. Thanks again Kelly family for all the fun!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

7/23/08 Four Birthdays

We celebrated P’s parents’ birthdays. We enjoyed a lovely evening celebrating their lives. We are so thankful for the 70 wonderful years God has given them. A few days later we celebrated RJ’s b-day and cousin Jeff’s. She turned 12 and he’s turning 15. Happy Birthday to the Meity gang!!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

7/19/08 Devil’s Lake Delight

P and the girls joined his brother’s family and some of their friends for a fun weekend at Devil’s Lake in Wisconsin. To the delight of our kids, they were kicked out of the motorhome and sent to the tent, while P's brother and his wife stayed in the motorhome. Meanwhile, I stayed home for a weekend of school planning. Like I expected, I worked like a horse all weekend (on school planning) and the 2 days felt like 2 seconds and I still have much to do! Well, I’m thankful that I at least had that time! But, too bad the camping trip wasn’t a week long instead!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

7/17/08 Spring Cleaning in the Summer

Last night we finally arrived in Wales, WI for the long awaited visit w/ P’s family. We are all so glad to get to visit his family.

Besides spending time with P’s dad, today was spring cleaning day, complete with a good washing of our house – inside and out. However, we did find someone sleeping on the job in one of our storage bays!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

7/16/08 Green Acres is the Place to Be…with friends from our college days

On our way to visit Paul’s family, we stopped to see some friends we met on a summer mission in college – that was when P and I first met each other, too. We’ve kept in touch over the years but haven’t seen them since we were newly weds (at least that’s as far as we can remember!). They live on a beautiful 6 acres with horses and 5 kids, 4 who are the same age as our girls. We ALL had a terrific time. It was great to catch up and enjoy the fellowship with them. We even looked at pictures from the summer mission and could hardly recognize the little boys and girls in those pictures from 21 years ago – surely they couldn’t have been us!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

7/15/08 A Water-ful Day

Little did I know that Wisconsin Dells is the water park mecca of the USA. They have the largest indoor and outdoor water parks in the US. And, I feel certain they have the largest number of water parks per capita in the world. I’m not sure how it happened, but somewhere along the line, someone (or more likely, many people) decided that this was a good spot for an inordinate amount of water parks, mini golf courses, restaurants, hotels, and all sorts of other ways to spend your money to entertain yourself. We were fortunate to get free tickets to a water park/amusement park by staying at the local KOA campground, so we indulged in a water park day like the bizillions of other people there. We arrived at opening time, 10am and stayed until 10:30 at night. You might think we must be a little water park deprived – and I’d agree that it seems that way. We had a blast! We also enjoyed the unlimited go-kart racing on three different tracks at the amusement park. I could let the speed car racer in me come out. :-)

Monday, July 14, 2008

7/14/08 No Touring Allowed!

In honor of a couple of lovely NO tour days, full of just hanging out, and not having any planned activities, I have no comments and no pictures. :-)

Saturday, July 12, 2008

7/12/08 A Delightful Visit with Dear Friends

This was a visit I had hoped to make years ago, but better late than never. These dear friends moved away from Torrance about 4 years ago and it’s been that long since we’ve seen them. We had a short but very sweet visit with them. Joni’s father passed away just 1 week before our visit so we felt very thankful that they were even up to a visit considering all they’ve been through. It was so good for our souls to see them. Fellowship with beloved friends and NO time constraints is definitely something I look forward to in Heaven!!

Friday, July 11, 2008

7/11/08 On the Banks of Plum Creek in Walnut Grove, MN

Today we, like Laura enjoyed playing in Plum Creek. We saw the site they had the dug out home right along the creek. It was a hot day, so I could easily imagine how much they would have appreciated and enjoyed the creek. The highlight, however, of our visit here was the Laura Ingalls Pageant. In an outdoor theater, every July for 31 years, spectators have been watching performances of Laura’s life in Walnut Grove. It was fabulous, complete with awesome sets, live animals, and special effects of grasshopper attacks, prairie fire and more. We were all so thankful that the timing of our visit was such that we could see it. It made the stop very worthwhile.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Story Bike Trip

A particularly delightful aspect of traveling is meeting people along the way. Today we feel especially privileged to meet a lovely family who is on an exciting adventure. Like us, they are traveling across the US, but amazingly, the dad is doing so on bicycle!! His wife and 4 kids are traveling in a motor home while he takes it at a slower pace along with a great work-out. They are promoting a great ministry along the way, African Widows and Orphans Project, as they raise money for it. It was very fun to hear about their trip and we found we had a lot in common as both Christians and homeschoolers. I’m sorry I didn’t get a picture of their family, but I do have their web site where you can see them, their story, the ministry, and more about their big adventure. It’s

7/10/08 The Little Town on the Prairie

While some De Smet residents may be sick of the name, Ingalls, I’m sure they don’t mind the way it affects their pocketbooks today. This is the location where four of her books took place. I believe she was 11 when they moved here. It was here she spent the “Long, Long Winter,” had her first teaching job at age 15, met and married Almonzo, and had her two children (one who died shortly after birth). The girls especially enjoyed the Ingalls Homestead where they were able to experience many hands on, interactive Ingalls and prairie life activities.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

7/8/08 Biking in the Badlands

My favorite part about today was seeing the Badlands on bike. Paul and I took turns riding our bikes along the 22 mile scenic loop. It’s so different seeing something from the slow pace of a bike as you feel the breeze on your face. It offers a different perspective and I think possibly a greater appreciation as one slows down the pace. Besides that - it’s good exercise!

Monday, July 7, 2008

7/7/08 Nifty Needles and Bold Burros!

Today we rented a car and drove on the scenic highway that couldn’t be built. Supposedly it was an engineering impossibility. But with some major ingenuity and 150,000 pounds of dynamite, it was built in 1921. We drove through – literally - the stunning spires of the Black Hills, driving past and through the beautiful rock formations, through forests and meadows, and enjoying the spectacular scenery of the Black Hills along with some of God’s creatures great and small. Once again I can’t help but marvel at God’s creation and stand in awe of its Creator.

For the most laughs today, we experienced wild burros gone crazy with tourism. They, like Bison, take their sweet, old time walking IN the roads (as opposed to across the roads). We feel pretty sure they are so smart that they won’t get out of your way until they get some compensation in the form of food. They are over-the-top comfortable with humans – so much so they will stick their head in your car. We were all laughing hysterically.

7/7/08 For all you National Treasures 2 Fans…

Sylvan Lake is not actually right behind Mt. Rushmore – it was movie magic that made it look that way – it’s several miles away. But it was where they successfully followed the clues to find the entrance to the City of Gold. Naturally, the girls, being the National Treasure fans they are, had to find it too.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

7/6/08: Giant Mammoths and Wind Cave

Today we went to the largest, best preserved site of Mammoth bones in the world. It was a sink hole once filled with water that trapped these now extinct creatures. The unique circumstances provided for the amazing preservation of these bones. Very cool to see the actual dig pit with so many bones in it – I’d say this was definitely a good educational trip, if you are ever in the area.

We also went to the nearby Wind Cave National Park and took a cave tour. While the cave has virtually no stalactites, stalagmites or other formations created by dripping water, the unique feature of these caves is the boxwork formations. These formations are only found in significance in the Black Hills because the chemistry which created the boxwork is unique to these caves.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

7/5/08: Reaching New Heights

We set a goal for our littlest R to work up to an 8 mile hike. Today she just about did it. We hiked to Harney Peak (7200 ft. elevation) in the Black Hills, the highest peak east of the Rockies all the way to the Alps. She did 7 ½ miles with 1100 ft elevation gain – not too bad for a 6 year old. She did really well, and most importantly with a happy heart - go girl!! Afterward, the kids were rewarded with a refreshing swim in Sylvan Lake. Besides being a beautiful and great swimming lake, it is more importantly (to the kids) one of the location sites for the movie National Treasure 2 (but you can see more about that in one of the next entries).

Friday, July 4, 2008

7/4/08: A Little Entrepreneur

Just to encourage any kids out there who are aspiring to be entrepreneurs…well…o.k. any kids who want some hard, cold cash…there are so many ways you can do it! Get your thinking caps on and you can definitely make some bucks! RJ likes to face paint and when she finished dinner, she used about 30 minutes to go out and ask if any kids wanted their faces painted. She did 8 patriotic paint jobs and made $8 bucks for her 30 minutes. Not bad for an 11 year old. So, kids, get creative and go for it!!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

7/3/08: A Patriotic 4th of July Celebration

We were up bright and early (as in 6:00 am) to get parking for the 3rd largest fireworks display in the country. This is one of those times a motor home comes in VERY handy. We didn’t mind being there early because we leisurely took our showers and ate breakfast after we got parked for the day. I don’t believe I’ve had a more patriotic 4th of July celebration, and I know we haven’t seen such a stunning display of fireworks!! This celebration was complete with 3 different fly-overs, a fabulous army band, a special appearance honoring the only living WW1 veteran (at 107 years old!), various performances, and speeches by Presidents Roosevelt and Lincoln. Then it was topped off with a fireworks show that was like the finales we’ve seen in the past, but for the whole, long, spectacular show. Who could ask for more? Truthfully, I couldn’t contain my squeals of delight at the fireworks show. I’m sure I had more fun than a kid in a candy store – we all did. We all agreed we would do that again in a heartbeat!!!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

7/2/08: A Budding Photographer

K has a budding interest in photography. From her many photos (did I mention how much I like digital cameras?), I chose a couple of my favorites to post for your viewing pleasure…

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

7/1/08: Horsing Around

My girls finally had their chance to ride a horse (without being led, that is). Judging by the delight they all had, it seems this was long overdue. (Another big score of parent points on this one – does that make up for all the time we loose points going to too many museums and waiting for mom to read every sign at every point of interest???) The downside to this is that now we have 3 requests for riding lessons – ouch!