Colorado Road Trip, Day 3

On the third day of our Griswald family vacation, we went back to Garden of the Gods for the morning and then waited on the rest of Matt’s family to arrive.  After they arrived, we took them to Helen Hunt Falls where we all hiked, back to GotG, and then out to eat at Fargo’s Restaurant.  This restaurant was highly recommended to us by a variety of friends.  I’ll just say that I don’t necessarily recommend it for a party of 25 people consisting mostly of small (tired) children or their road weary (tired) parents.  It was fun, but would have likely been more enjoyable for all in a smaller group.  Anyway….

Pictures from Day 3 (click on any photo to enlarge):

Next week – Day 4 and the drive home!

If you have followed me to WP from Xanga, would you mind telling me what you think of the photo layouts over here?  Do you like the slide shows that I did a couple of times this week?  Or the gallery of today?  Or do you prefer how I used to line them all down the post, list-like?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!


Kids Fun Run

The girls participated in their annual fun run last weekend.  It was a hot and sticky day, and I really didn’t feel like sitting in the natural sauna that night.  But the girls really wanted to do the run, so out we went.  It turned out to be an absolutely beautiful evening followed by our favorite summer pastime – mexican food on the patio!  🙂

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A Symphony on the Plains

On Saturday afternoon we headed out on an annual adventure to some obscure part of Kansas.  Eight of us packed into a Suburban and drove nearly two hours sharing stories, pretzels, and laughter.  We enjoyed some wonderful barbecue, breath-taking scenery, and the music of the Kansas City Symphony.  This is, without a doubt, one of my favorite annual events.  Thanks, friends, for another fabulous evening in the Flint Hills.

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Counting the Uncountable Blessings

It’s Monday again.  The children still sleep.  The dog shifts her weight on the wood floor of the kitchen.  God’s word fills my head and coffee is flowing through the bloodstream.  It’s time to count the countless blessings of the past week.

0556. my husband,  my love

0557.  the first fireflies

0558.  little girls’ homemade plays and parades

0559.  six year old’s poison ivy

0560.  clutter

0561.  the ability to run and care for my body

0562.  Summer Fun Lists

0563.  a clean house

00564.  swimming beaches

0565.  leeches?!

0566.  monte cristo hot dogs

0567.  unexpected opportunities to discuss the facts of life

0568.  a God with big ears

0569.  “Children obey your parents in the north”

0570.  symphony in the flint hills

0571.  a beloved annual event

0572.  laughter with friends

0573.  father-in-law birthday

0574.  the tenth girl grandbaby

0575.  God’s glory in a midnight storm

0576.  small group fellowship

0577.  sweet friends

0578.  kid fun runs

0579.  safety while sleeping through tornado sirens

What about you?  What are you thankful for today?

Week in Review

Our first full week of regular life since vacation was this week.  It’s gone well.  Although, between shuttling Grace to ballet camp and cleaning house and doing my housewifely duties, I don’t feel like we’ve accomplished much.  But the house is clean and the fridge is full, so I guess that’s something!

Grace had her first taste of pre-pointe II this week at camp.  If she does well once classes start in August, she may be able to go on pointe at the end of September.  She’s so excited!

The other girls and I did normal things like grocery shopping and laundry and house cleaning.  I wish I could find a way (other than financial bribery) to get them excited about cleaning.  Sometimes they are.  But other times you would think I was asking them to dig their own grave. 

Yesterday I took the girls to the swimming beach.  We’ve been going there for a few years and absolutely love it, but we did experience a “first” yesterday.  Grace discovered a leech on her foot!  Ewwww!!!!  Seriously, that’s gross.  Somehow, in my head, those didn’t even exist anymore.  I’m not sure what I thought had happened to them, but I certainly didn’t expect her to come out of the swimming beach with one.  Further reason why I don’t need to get in the water there and can continue to casually sit in my lounge chair and read.

Tonight the girls are supposed to run in a local kids fun run.  I’m secretly hoping they’ll change their minds.  I love the heat and humidity, but honestly, it’s like 1000% humidity out there and I would much rather get some mexican food and find a shaded patio to eat on.

Tomorrow is one of our favorite annual events – Symphony in the Flint Hills!  An amazing event we look forward to every year.  Can’t wait!

(photos from last year’s event)

The gifts of “the fruit of the Spirit” do not automatically become evident in our lives.  If we are not discerning enough to recognize their availability to us, to desire them, and then to nourish them in our thoughts, they will never become embedded in our nature or behavior.

Very few Christians are willing to endure the suffering through which complete gentleness is obtained.  We must die to ourselves before we are turned into gentleness, and our crucifixion involves suffering.  It will mean experiencing genuine brokenness and a crushing of self, which will be used to afflict the heart and conquer the mind.

~Streams in the Desert, June 11

Have an amazing weekend, friends.

Colorado Family Trip, Day 2

The first thing I remember about our second day in Colorado is the  unimaginable pain I woke up in.  Like the latter stages of labor.  Times five.  And all in my back.  It was AWFUL.  Once I caught my breath from  the pain, I noticed that sunlight pouring in through the windows and  thought to myself it must be at least 9  am!  I fumbled for my phone and discovered it was 5.  In the  morning.  Oh boy.  This could make for a very long day.

I  shuffled around trying to gather what I needed to take a shower (at  least the shower house would be empty at that hour!) and wandered down  there.  Hot water washed away the damage the mattress did to my back and  the day started looking up.  (Later we got Starbucks and once again all  was right with the world.)

Helen Hunt Falls – a beautiful  (FREE) place we were turned on to this time around

Helen Hunt Falls - as far as I can tell, not named for the actress. 🙂

How sweet Emma spent most of the trip - taking pictures with my old Blackberry.

Grace and Ellie waiting for a ride home.

After Helen Hunt Falls, we headed out to the Air Force Academy. Or what I like to refer to as The Naval Base.  (Don’t ask.)

Everyone was pretty tired, so we only made it through the Visitor’s Center and over to the Chapel.  But it was a beautiful campus and we would have loved to see more.  Perhaps next time!

The Chapel

We had the aweseome chance to see the F16's/Thunderbirds fly over several times in training sessions. Pretty amazing stuff!

Did I mention they were all a little tired?

After the Academy, we went back to the cabin for a bit.  Later on we went out “exploring” (that’s when we drive around trying to find something to do).  We headed towards downtown and found a fun park with a wonderful fountain – Penrose Fountain.  The girls had a blast!

Absolutely soaking wet. And thrilled about it! 🙂

Day 3 will be posted next week!


Colorado Family Trip, Day 1

A few weeks ago, we took a four day road trip to Colorado Springs for an extended family adventure with my in-laws.  Here are the first  couple of days in pictures….

Logically, let’s start with day 1 of our Griswald style family  vacation (no, I’m not  trying to steal that line from the Pioneer  Woman…there were some aspects of this little trip that gave a definite Cousin Eddie vibe,  although those pictures may not make today’s  post…):

First  stop:  Garden of the Gods – one  of the coolest places on  earth

Not a big fan of being stuck on that rock.

It was windy. I think he's trying to keep her from blowing away.

Again with the wind!

Ahhhh....Balanced Rock - one of our favorites!

I was fascinated by the exposed root structures on the trees....

There's one child....

Ah! There's the rest of them! 🙂

They appear to be backing away from the edge....

That's my whole heart wandering around up on that rock.

I don't imagine this guy enjoyed his visit to Garden of the Gods as much as we did.

Driving through the night does weird things to your perception of time.  I don’t remember what all else we did that day.  Perhaps swim in the non-heated heated swimming pool?  We enjoyed dinner on the patio at Amanda’s Fonda.  Then we went back to the cabin and tried to get kids to sleep.  Finally, around 10, I think we were successful.  And Matt and I, in our delirium, stumbled into bed ourselves.

Things I Wish I Had Known – Nikon D60

Recently I had a conversation with a good friend who is thinking about buying a DSLR camera.  Since that seems to be the popular thing to do lately (I jumped on board two years ago myself), I thought I’d share a few things I wish I had known then that may have affected my decision to take the plunge.

I’ve always enjoyed photography but honestly knew nothing about the mechanics of it (and still know very little).  I decided to buy my first DSLR  because I wanted to “take better pictures” and “take my photography to the next level”.  I looked at sites like this and this and wanted to learn to take pictures like that.

The first thing I learned was that those pictures do not just fall out of the camera, no matter how good the camera is!  There’s a difference between good equipment and real talent.  I am learning to take better pictures, and have come a long way in two years, but I do not expect to ever be at the level of these two amazingly talented women.  That said, it doesn’t mean I won’t keep trying!  😛

Next, I found out that there is a huge – and I mean HUGE – learning curve when switching from a point-and-shoot camera to a DSLR.  I’m not as techno-savvy as I once was, but I’m not completely clueless either, and I have really struggled to figure my camera out.  I did NOT sit down and read the manual cover to cover as was recommended to me.  My reading time is too limited to spend it on that; I have figured it out as I go along.  There are still countless features and functions I don’t know how to use, simply because I have not had time to sit down and figure them all out.  You can, of course, use the camera forever in auto mode, but that just makes for a very clunky, very expensive, point-and-shoot camera, in my opinion.

Also, it is possible to spend as much or more than the camera on additional lenses (and that’s just on one lens!).  The kit lens is adequate and will do a good job in most settings.  But I’ve learned that if you really want your pictures to have some pop or extra appeal, it takes different, better quality lenses.  Not all of the lenses are expensive.  My favorite lens was only about $100.  But the lens I’m looking at now (and trying to figure out if I can justify) will honestly cost more than my camera did.

That’s another thing, learning about the lens mounts.  If I had known then what I know now, I would have shelled out a few hundred more for the camera with a different lens mount, but of course I was CLUELESS to the fact that Nikon had different types of lens mountings.  Anyway, unless I want to upgrade my camera body now, I end up actually having to buy a more expensive lens for my less expensive camera body than I would if I had bought the more expensive camera body.

Lastly, once you have your camera and your good lens, you may still find that your pictures aren’t quite what you had, well, pictured.  That’s because the last step is post-production – adding textures, actions, and other forms of editing that I am only just beginning to understand.

I really like my Nikon and am proud of the progress I’ve made in my photographic abilities over the past couple of years, but there are some moments I have missed because my light setting wasn’t right or my focus was off.  Moments that I would have caught with my trusty little Kodak.

So, what’s the final analysis?  If you want to plunge in and get a DSLR, go in with your eyes open and be ready to work for it  (unless, of course, you have raw talent – something I feel like I lack 😉 ).  If you don’t have the time, energy, or desire there are some great point-and-shoot cameras with amazing optical zoom available for about half the cost that would have certainly been an option if I had considered them.

The Tuesday Funnies

Ellie has been obsessed lately with her oldest sister, always wanting to be like her, always wanting to be with her, always wanting to BE HER.

Well, the other night I overheard Ellie talking to Grace.  Here’s how the conversation went:

Ellie – “Grace, I wish you and I were the only ones in our family with curly hair.  Well, I guess we are,” she pauses and looks over at Matt before continuing on, “because you have curly hair and I have curly hair and Daddy has mostly bald hair.”  😀