Wednesday, July 2, 2014

There and Back Again: Part three - Dallas/Fort Worth

We took most of a day to drive up to Dallas as we were in no hurry and wanted to enjoy the little things along the way.  Here is a picture from the road of a rainstorm heading our way.  It's been a while since I have driven in a rain storm.  We don't get many of those int he desert!

In Dallas, we were able to stay with some of our friends from our days at Dallas Baptist University.  It's such an amazing thing when you can pick back up with a friendship after so many years just like you've never been apart.  We really appreciated being hosted in a real home after so many nights in hotels. 

Here is a picture of three of our kids being entertained by the frisky squirrels as they chased each other around the trees.

We took the next day to visit with extended family and catch up.  It had been many years since we had all been together.  Here is a picture of my mom holding an exhausted little Timmy as he napped after lunch.

Later that evening, we ventured to the Fort Worth Stockyards for a little Texas culture and some good food.  Here are a few pictures of our time there.


This picture has some lighting issues (my camera doesn't do well with low lighting) but I'm happy that we were able to get a picture of the whole family together.

Here is a picture that one of the kids snapped of Peter and I.

The next morning, we took a tour of our alma mater, Dallas Baptist University.  This campus has really grown and changed in the last...well, quite a few years:)

No longer 20 year old students!

DBU did not provide scholarships for my kids or in anyway compensate me for this post.  This is just me sharing about our trip and reminiscing about the fond memories that we have from our time here.

 Stay tuned for the last leg of our journey as we tour Carlsbad Caverns and enjoy White Sands.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

There and Back Again: Part four - Carlsbad Cavern and White Sands

We decided to make the drive home in three days instead of the crazy two that we did on the way to Galveston.

First stop along the way, Carlsbad Cavern, New Mexico.  I remember going here as a child but really can only remember how freaked out I was about going down in the cavern...haha.  Thankfully none of our kids seemed concerned and we were able to see this amazing place.  We enjoyed how cool it was and were in awe of the enormous size of the part of the cavern that we toured.  I'm thinking that the early explorers were out of their minds for climbing down on little wire ladders!
The lighting was tough and the pictures don't do it justice but here are a few pics.

After resting up, we set out for the last day of our journey and the one that would take us to home sweet home.  Before hitting the road, we made a quick trip north to visit White Sands.  The contrast of the cool, white sand to the rugged, blistering desert was fascinating.  We took a sled and let the kids go down the doons, roll  in the sand, and tried desperately to leave it all there.  However careful we were to dust off, I was finding sand in shoes and pockets for a week after the trip.

Here are the pictures of or time at White Sands.

And that completes our journey.  We had fun, but, are content to be home and back to our daily routines.

Friday, June 27, 2014

There and Back Again: Part two - Danbury Lodge

After enjoying Galveston for two days, we packed up and headed to a retreat center that is owned by my parent's church.  We spent the next five days relaxing, napping, fishing, swimming, making smores, going to an aquarium, and catching up on laundry.  

Because I tend to focus on organization, I want even our vacations to have an element of organization to them.  Otherwise, it's ridiculously crazy.  Packing for this crew of nine with multiple stops all over the state of Texas and beyond was not easy.  Here is a post to my vacation packing solutions.  Because we were making so many stops, I used laundry baskets to hold the daily bags instead of suitcases.  This way, I could grab the pajama bag and one or two day's bags when we were going into a hotel and not have to unload the entire van.  This worked like a charm:)

Another organizational element was meal planning.  We were going to have five different households represented and would need to find a way to share the load with cooking and cleaning up.  So, we decided to let each family fend for themselves for breakfasts and lunches (except one morning when my cousin prepared a wonderful crockpot breakfast burrito recipe that we have already repeated at home after the trip) .  Then, we divided the evening meals among us.  We had tons of left overs and were able to a smorgasbord the last night.  

Here are a few pictures of our time at the Danbury Lodge. 

 Timmy and his cousin, Heston.

 Look at that beautiful, green grass behind him.  Ahhhh.

After a week or so the laundry was really piling up so I was allowed to use the laundry facility at the lodge.  This laundry room had the capability of nine loads of laundry all going at once and it had a large folding area.  I took a picture so that Peter can build one of these for me on day:)

One morning the kids were treated to feeding the fish that were recently stocked in one of the ponds on the property. 

We ventured out one morning to an aquarium in a nearby town.  This place is also a hatchery that takes part of replenishing ocean life in the Gulf of Mexico.  So, the kids were able to hear about how they are working to protect specific species in The Gulf of Mexico.

We took the kids on the tour and here are the happy "after tour" faces.  Hehe.  In their defense, it was humid, hot, humid, and well past lunch time.  Did I mention humid?  Living in Arizona for over a decade, I had forgotten the relentless torture of humidity.

Then another day, we were able to spend a morning fishing in the ponds.  I don't think that my kids have fished before but they caught on pun intended:)  Everyone enjoyed this so much, we decided to start fishing in the "catch and release" lakes behind our house.

 Timmy didn't last long at the fish pond.

As hot and humid as it was, we still had to do one bonfire and make smores.  This was Timmy's first smores.  Can you see the sugar rush in those eyes?


This place was beyond beautiful with all of the green grass, ponds, and places to relax.  I really cherish the memories we made here with family.

And, yes, Nathan is passing me up.  How can that be?

Next on the agenda, Dallas/Forth Worth.  Stay tuned for those adventures:)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

There and Back Again: Part one - Galveston

In late May, we took a trip to Texas to celebrate my little brother's graduation from medical school and to reconnect and fellowship with my family.  It was such an amazing time for our family.  And, like every good homeschool mom (insert sarcasm), I turned it into a two week long field trip.  We learned so much during these two weeks and were able to drive through the states that two of the kids are currently researching for their year end reports.  

We started by making the drive to Galveston in just two days.  I do not suggest this for those with littes.  We spent about 12 hours total traveling each day (about 9 hours of road time).  But, we made it for graduation and then enjoyed Galveston for a day before moving on to the next destination.  Here are a few pictures of our time in Galveston.

We didn't actually go to this amusement park but thought it was so unique and made such a great picture.  I believe this pier held the hotel where my parents honeymooned.  After Hurricane Ike it was rebuilt as an amusement park.

This was Timmy's first real beach experience so I spent much of my time getting pictures of how he enjoyed his day at the beach.

He pretty much kept to the sand and shade as he wasn't a big fan of the crazy seaweed season or the rushing waves.

Here are some of the other kids enjoying the rare treat of a beach day.

After the beach, we cleaned up (as much as anyone ever does in Galveston) and headed to The Strand to enjoy more of what this island has to offer.  Here are a few more pictures of the rest of our Galveston day. 

We met up with aunts, uncles, and cousins.  This was the first time that all nine cousins were together.   

Stay tuned for more posts on this trip:)