Week in Review {2013: Weeks 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12 – wow!}

So, really, this is more of a month (and a half) in review.  Sheesh.   This post has literally been in process since February 18.  Sad.  So sad.  I don’t even remember half of what happened in that time frame.

So we’ll hit the highlights….

We had snow.  Lots of snow.  Much needed, but we’re now over it.  I saw tonight the weatherman predicted more snow for next week.  Possibly several inches.  I may scream.

We waited for adoption news.  We rejoiced with others who got good news.  We grieved with those who have not.  And we prayed.  A lot.  For everyone at our orphanage in this process.

And then we got good news!  And more good news!  And tomorrow we travel to bring our girl home.  Still so entirely unbelievable.  And all the big stuff is finished, but several little, non-important things still hang out there.  I had planned on getting them done tonight, and still may.  But since we dropped the girls at Matt’s parents a little bit ago, it’s as if the emotional weight of the past month just hit me and I’m exhausted.  So I may just go to bed early and trust the Lord that those little things will be there when we get home.  Because they will.  🙂

We were blessed to go on a beautiful little family get away in early March.  We headed out to Denver where we visited the Science and Technology Museum, the state Capitol, and ate dinner at Casa Bonita (horrible, horrible food; cheesy family memories).  We stayed with wonderful adoption friends Tracy and Christy and their three girls and visited our adoption agency and met our wonderful caseworker Patrick.  So good to finally put a face to the man who has walked so much of this road with us.

Then we journeyed on down to our favorite family place – Lost Valley Ranch.  We hiked. We rode horses.  We endured blizzard conditions.  The girls went sledding.  It wasn’t as picture perfect as we had hoped, but it was still a wonderful time away and something we will remember for a long time.  I’m already itching to go back.  😉

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The Colorado State Capitol

Ellie at one mile above sea level

At the Science and Technology Museum

Yeah.  We’re that cool.

Ah, Casa Bonita….

The Lost Valley cattle guard.  Oooo Ahhhh!

Matt about ten minutes after we arrived in Lost Valley.

Lost Valley beauty

Waiting for dinner.

Even the stuffed animals get turn down service.

Got snow?  Still we ride.

Goldie and Remington. Goldie hated me.

I waved the white flag on 7.  At least on the clothing portion.  The two week period in which we were doing clothes has experienced temperatures ranging from 86* to single digit wind chills and six inches of snow.  AND I had two days to spend at an arts competition with a fairly strict dress code.  There was no way to do that with seven items of clothing.  Not to mention that I discovered by day 2 that I apparently stink when I re-wear clothing.  I was offending myself with my odor.  So, wave the white flag, I did.

We also had the girls’ fine arts competitions.  They all did well and I had wanted to post pictures of them with their art and ribbons, but those pictures have not been taken yet and if I wait to post this after I get those pictures this may turn into a year in review post!

That’s it for me tonight.  Have a wonderful rest of the week, friends.  My next post should be of our “official” family of seven!

For His Glory ~

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Counting…

Home from a weekend away, trying to catch up on so many things before we leave again, my mind overflows with thoughts to share – adoption news, ministry happenings, and an update on 7, plus life in general.  But today it seems fitting to start with a heart of thanksgiving, to begin by singing praises to the One who so faithfully provides for all our needs and graciously gives so much we don’t deserve.

2439.  dates with two more girls – special times with them

2440.  snow – a blanket of falling white

2441.  thunder and lightning mixed in – spring wrapped in white

2442.  Haiti movement – not for us, but at least for someone

2443.  when God opens your eyes/heart/mind and shows us what we’ve been missing and what He’s been doing

2444.  realizing I’ve taken on too much of the world again; ready to lay it all down

2445.  more snow – a foot of white wonder

2446.  two quiet days at home

2447.  snow ice cream

2448.  clusters of white mess on the dog

2449.  gear strewn all over the house – evidence of memories made

2450.  lots of laughter with friends

2451.  a three mile run – getting back into the groove

2452.  news of one Lifeline kid about to go home

2453.  more snow

2454.  coffee – without creamer (thanks 7)

2455.  my beloved

2456.  coming before the throne in corporate prayer

2457.  girls quiet while we prayed

2458.  little answers to unsure prayers

2459.  quiet Fridays

2460.  four miles run – farthest in some time

2461.  husband slightly better

2462.  a night out – a date with the iPad in lieu of a sick husband

2463.  adoption class at church – so many families on this journey

2464.  I600 approval – only two more steps!

2465.  pot hole – first signs of spring (this one is just for Nikki D.  🙂 )

2466.  God’s timing

2467.  a Visa appointment scheduled!

2468.  wild joy, Ellie screaming with excitement

2469.  family road trip, long-awaited vacation

2470.  a day in Denver – downtown, the science museum, spectacular weather

2471.  Casa Bonita – horrible food; fun family memories

2472.  visiting adoption friends

2473.  meeting Patrick – our caseworker and friend

2474.  Lost Valley Ranch – oooo aaaaah!

2475.  hiking to Helen’s Rock

2476.  riding horses in falling snow

2477.  accepting God’s plans for our vacation and being flexible

2478.  girls sledding behind four wheelers and on inner tubes

2479.  plane tickets booked – Gotcha Day scheduled!

2480.  sun rising over Rocky Mountains, snow a million diamonds sparkling

2481.  one more ride

2482.  ending vacation well, with joy

2483.  the everlasting drive home – arriving safely at 1 am

2484.  girls sleeping in on a Monday off from school

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For His Glory ~

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Texas Tour, Part III

So, I got up yesterday and planned to post the final installment of our whirlwind trip, but I just couldn’t bring myself to edit any more photos or stare at my computer screen.  But I’m here today to wrap up our series of unfortunate events.  🙂

We had our day in San Antonio on Tuesday.  Late that afternoon we drove to New Braunfels to spend a couple of days with friends there.  We had a truly delightful time with Cory and Whitney and their three kiddos.  On their property is an old German-style cabin with a living room, small kitchenette, bathroom, and bedroom.  It was just about the most charming thing I’ve ever seen.

The city of New Braunfels is apparently quite the safe haven for deer.  They are virtually over-run by them.  And they are extremely bold in how close they will get to you.  New Braunfels/San Antonio were/are in a severe drought and hadn’t had rain in nearly a year (tuck that in the back of your mind, as this detail will be important later).  It seems that this is part of the reason for the boldness of the deer.  Anyway, they were everywhere and would get close enough you could almost feed them by hand.

You can see our cabin in the back ground on the right, for a perspective on how close they would get to people. This photo was taken at the same time as the one above, so Matt was standing on the porch while this deer was in the yard.

So, Tuesday night we just relaxed and enjoyed a wonderful dinner with Cory and Whitney.  I hadn’t laughed that hard or that much in a long time.  On Wednesday, Whitney took us on a tour of local hot spots.  First up was the quaint little town of Gruene.  Like the cabin, I’m not sure when I’ve seen a place more charming.

Matt, busted for abandoning Whitney and myself to seven children in a toy store.

Ellie enjoying a marble maze

We spent the morning strolling through the little town, the girls picked up trinkets at the general store (including Emma’s choice:  a bow and arrow set, complete with bowie knife), and we ate lunch at the Gristmill.  The forecast for the day had been 40% chance of rain (take notes, as once again, this detail will be important later), and we got showered on briefly while dining on the patio at the Gristmill, but other than that, they day was glorious.

That afternoon, Whitney took us all to “the island”.  Apparently, with their property comes access to an private island on the Comal River.  And, once again, it was unlike anything we’d ever seen before.

Riding the golf cart to the island.

At the Comal River

Ellie refused to get in because we didn't bring her floatie ring. Her loss.

Ellie's brief foray into the water.

Grace jumping off the diving board into the river.

Sylvie (Cory & Whitney's daughter)

Emma walked out to the end multiple times but never would jump off. She didn't like the fish swimming under the diving board. No, she doesn't take after her mother at all. (Dont't ask me how I feel about swimming in lake water.)

Rett jumping in.

I was also blessed to get to meet another Facebook / blogging friend in real life.  Abby brought her kids out to the island and we had the chance to meet and visit.  Getting to meet so many people on this trip was definitely one of the highlights!

At some point int he afternoon, the kids found a turtle and decided to build it a home in the sandbox.  I’ve never felt so sorry for a turtle in all my life.

The poor, helpless turtle that the kids tried to "help" for much of the afternoon.

Bridger observing the construction of the turtle habitat.

About half of the kids working on the turtle habitat. They just kept adding more and more water and more and more features.

Wednesday night, as we sat around the table with Cory and Whit, the topic of Sea World came up.  I was lobbying hard for it and Matt was reluctant.  His points were extremely valid – we were all exhausted, it would mean another day added to the trip, it was rather expensive, etc.  My points were that we wouldn’t be this close to a Sea World again for quite a while, the girls had just finished up a year of studying about sea creatures in school, and they had been looking forward to it ever since someone (not me) mentioned at dinner a month before that we would be going to an amusement park.  Ahem.

Thursday morning we got up and the discussions of Sea World began again.  We remained divided on the issue, but eventually Matt caved came around and bought the non-refundable tickets.  We woke the girls up without telling them our plan for the day and immediately began loading up the truck.  Everyone was tired and grouchy but I kept telling myself it would all be fine once we got to Sea World.  Right????

The forecast for the day was a 50% chance of thunderstorms, but we had been seeing that all week, so surely it would be fine.

Because Sea World San Antonio has a water park inside, we put on swim suits and sundresses (Matt didn’t wear a sundress) and the girls couldn’t figure out for the life of them why we were wearing swim suits to drive home.

We managed to get the entire truck packed and girls loaded up by 9 am, with the goal of being to the park by the time the gate opened at 10.  We strapped our luggage on top and re-duct taped the carrier before heading out.  The girls snuggled back in to their pillows and blankets and, I’m guessing, mentally prepared for the long drive home.

It’s worth pointing out here that New Braunfels is about an hour closer to Kansas than Sea World is, so in going to Sea World, we were actually making a longer drive home for ourselves.  But it was going to be worth it!  Oh the memories we were going to make that day!  At least that’s what I kept telling myself.

So we started to head south toward San Antonio.  As we were driving the sky became very ominous, having a distinct green color to it.  Being from Kansas, a green sky typically only means one thing – tornadoes.

We are all very quiet at this point.  I’m starting to feel rather sheepish and silently, fervently, praying that the weather will turn and God will redeem the day.  I can only imagine what Matt is thinking, but I’m confident it’s not very flattering toward me.

The closer we get to Sea World, the worse the weather gets.  First rain starts to fall, then the wind really starts to pick up.  I watch the indoor thermometer on the truck and the outside temperature drops nearly 15 to 20 degrees as we’re driving.  Heavy, heavy rains begin to fall, along with hail.  Whitney is texting us weather updates and finally calls, saying the news is saying tornadoes (what’d I tell you?) and severe weather all morning.  ** heavy sigh**

At this point I suggest pulling off the highway until some of the weather passes because I’m honestly concerned that the wind is going to rip our suitcases right off the top of the vehicle.  But, in keeping with our Griswold theme, we kept right on trucking.

I call the Sea World hotline to discuss the possibility of getting a refund on our tickets.  The woman on the other end is sympathetic but unmovable in regards to their no refunds policy.  Our moods are now about as gloomy as the sky outside.

We pull up to the gate at Sea World a few minutes before the gate is scheduled to open.  A handful of cars have already lined up at the entry.  As 10 o’clock comes and goes, Matt says dryly, “This is starting to look familiar.”

The moment when I was genuinely concerned Matt was going to go "Clark Griswald" on me.

As we wait, we see a couple of school buses come out, full of children.  This is not a good sign.  After a few more minutes, a couple of cars give up and turn back.  A couple of other cars go in through the open Exit gate to see what’s going on.  We follow them.

Inside, the security guard says that Sea World is closed for the day.  Matt said later he contemplated pulling out a water gun and insisting that the guard take us to see Shamu, but he restrained himself.

And so, an hour further from home than when we started, we turned back.  On the one hand, we had done the right thing (in my mind) by the girls and at least tried to go to Sea World.  On the other hand, we were now out more time and a lot of money with nothing to show for it.

We drove silently north, trying to make the best of things.  Once the rain lifted enough that I could actually hear myself think, I made another attempt at calling Sea World.  I told the nice woman our sob story and, eventually, she was able to refund our money.  Thank you, Lord

The whole way home I felt like I was waiting on that last bit of disaster.  The icing on the cake would truly have been for the luggage to blow off the top of my truck.  At this point in the trip, it may have even been funny.  Fortunately, the Lord didn’t see fit to stretch our senses of humor that far and the luggage stayed firmly attached the whole way home.

On the way home, we stopped back in Austin to return beach chairs to our friends that loaned them to us for Port A.  Then we stopped for an early dinner with great friends Dan and Laurie near Dallas and dessert with another family of friends Jamie and Julianne.  At 9:30 on Thursday night, we got into the Sequoia and Matt was finally able to push the “Home” button on the GPS.  At 4:30 Friday morning, we finally pulled into our driveway and dragged ourselves up to our beds.  Home never felt so good.

A lot of things went wrong on our Texas Tour and it would be easy to focus on that.  But we had a wonderful time as well.  Matt got to see friends he hadn’t seen in 20 years; I was able to meet “friends” I only knew through his stories and Facebook.  We spent a lot of time as a family and shared a lot of experiences and, without a doubt, this is a trip we will all remember for a very very long time and I’m truly thankful for every last bit of it.

Oh yeah...we also saw this big guy up close and in person our last night in NB. Wouldn't have missed that for the world! 😉

For God’s Glory ~

~ Sara

Texas Tour, Part II

So we left off our adventure yesterday with horrific sun burns, among other things.  We left Port Aransas a little before lunchtime and headed over to San Antonio.  We gave thanks for the warm temps with intermittent clouds that protected us from the sun.  Grace felt so miserable when we left the condo that she couldn’t bring herself to change out of her pajamas into regular clothes.  Not thinking, I threw all of her clothes into the suitcase and then handed it to Matt to strap to the truck in our now red-neck car top carrier.  So, upon arrival in San Antonio, poor Matt had to drag that monster of a suitcase back down so she could change.  I got the award that day for thinking ahead.  😉

Feeling the way we did, our goal was to keep it low-key and still have a good time.  We strolled the River Walk and checked out the Alamo.  And, of course, ate mexican food.  That was about all any one was up for on Tuesday.

San Antonio appeared to be a beautiful city.  The River Walk was gorgeous and would be such fun for a couples get away and the Alamo was everything I’d heard about it – cool, but not much to it.  There appeared to be a ton of things to do in SA if one were to spend more than six hours there.  Sadly, we were ready to keep moving on our trip.

Still, good times were had and more memories were made.  And fortunately we made it through Tuesday without incident!  Woo hoo!

Grace "feeling the burn", so to speak.

I don't even know what this face is about.

A smiley one!

Emma enjoying her lunch.

River Walk

Another spot along the river.

Ice cream!

Maybe she thinks I'm going to steal her cone?

Of course she picked the "Krazy Kolors" flavor. I love the spot of ice cream on her nose.

The Alamo

Reading up

Matt felt like we should document the fact that I was, in fact, on this trip.

While taking the previous picture, a man walked by and offered to take a photo of all of us. Props to him for actually getting my manual lens to focus!

Relaxing when we couldn't walk any more.

While San Antonio probably could have been more fun had we all felt better, we made the most of it and made more memories.

Up next, a couple of refreshing, relaxing days with friends and more unfortunate events.  🙂

Happy Wednesday, friends!

~ Sara

Texas Tour, Part I

In case you haven’t ever picked up on it, we love to travel.  We love to see different places and enjoy the change of pace that comes with a get away, be it long or short.  The girls have been begging us to take them to the beach (they speak their mother’s language).  Matt and I lobbied hard for Lost Valley, because as much as I love the beach, Lost Valley is the most magical place on earth when it comes to vacationing as a family.  But, the beach won out.  So we looked into road tripping it to Florida and the beautiful beaches we heard about there but we (Matt) just couldn’t get our (his) heads around the idea of driving 17 hours each way.  So, we looked at other options.

Throughout and right after high school, Matt was involved in a home schooling ministry that resulted in him having wonderful friends all around the country (and the world, in some cases) and a whole slew of those friends live along I35 in Texas.  So, after consulting some of these friends and Google Maps, we decided a Texas Tour, complete with a stop at the beach in Port Aransas, was in order.  Little did we know the “excitement” that lay ahead of us.  😉

*photo disclaimer – I did a horrible job taking pictures of the people we visited on this trip and I’m really annoyed at myself for that.  So, all these friends I’m going to mention over the next few days….not a single picture.  😦  I do have some great ones of the girls, though, so enjoy!

We left our home early two Saturday’s ago (i.e. 1:30 a.m.).  We loaded up a truck full of sleeping babes and headed south.  We stopped near Dallas, Texas, to see our sweet friends Justin and Melissa.  We enjoyed coffee and visiting with them, seeing their sweet new baby girl.  It was so great to visit and catch up, even if only briefly.

After Dallas, we headed on down to Austin.  Grace managed to get car sick between Dallas and Austin.  I rummaged through my purse and found the benadryl and we were up and running again. (Our family doctor said once that benadryl is good for nausea.  I question whether it actually affects the nausea or if it just makes you so darn tired you don’t notice how sick you feel.)

In Austin, friends Drew and Jessica put us up for the night.  We enjoyed catching up with them and loved having dinner with them and more friends (Brian and Peggy and family).  Mother’s day was slow waking up, coffee, very yummy breakfast tacos (in Kansas we would call them breakfast burritos – but they were tacos all throughout Texas), and getting back on the road.  Oh, but not before duct taping our car top luggage carrier back together and saying a quick prayer that our suitcases all stayed securely on top of the vehicle.

After Austin, we embarked on what seemed a very long drive to Port Aransas.  I think we had meant to take the interstate as far as possible, but the GPS took us down state roads through little towns.  It was scenic, but we all just really wanted to be out of the car and on the beach.  The highlight was taking the ferry across the waterways to Port A.  This was quite a thrill, as I was the only one of us who had ever done that before.

We stayed at Port Royal and were thrilled with our accommodations.  Two bedrooms, full kitchen, balcony overlooking the gulf.  We seriously considered staying another night, until Monday happened (I’ll get to that).  The wind on the beach was rather brutal, but the sand was wonderful and it was just fabulous to be near the ocean, soaking up warm sun and moist air.  The hotel also had a great pool, so when we wearied of the wind we headed over there.

Sunday night we (of course) were craving Mexican food.  (Because, let’s be honest, if we are what we eat, our whole family needs green cards.)  The parking spots at the resort were a little unusual.  These are privately-owned vacation homes and each parking slot was designed so that up to three vehicles could park in a line, one behind the other.  Since most of the parking garage was empty, there weren’t very many slots filled three-deep, so Matt just assumed they were deep enough for two cars.  Each bay of three slots was partitioned off with concrete columns.  Matt carefully counted back enough columns for two parking spaces, slowly began to turn to go out of the garage, when we suddenly heard a horrible crunch.

So, let’s pause a moment and begin a running talley of misadventures, forty-eight hours into our trip:

  • car sickness
  • shredded & duct taped car top carrier
  • smashed bumper

All right then.  Moving on.

We gathered our discouragement and headed on out to dinner, counting the right number of columns this time.  Matt had heard good things about a restaurant there on the island and we went in search of it only to find it was closed for Mother’s Day.  All right.  Moving on.  We found another mexican place with a pseudo patio and had a rather subdued dinner, trying to make the best of things.  Really.

Monday morning we woke up, eager to hit the beach and enjoy a day in the sun.  Matt and I were still seriously discussing the possibility of booking another night as this place was just so wonderful and relaxing.  By that night, however, our tune would change dramatically.

We thoroughly enjoyed our day in the sun, going in only to eat lunch.  We played on the beach until a couple of the girls and I had had all the wind we could take then we headed over to the pool.  Later in the day, we headed back out to the beach for a while longer.  I promptly fell asleep on the sand and Matt entertained all the girls.  By the time I woke up, Emma and Ellie were officially DONE, so we headed back to the room.

I knew when I woke up that I didn’t feel great.  I was hot and felt somewhat dehydrated.  I assumed the girls felt the same.  I took them back to the room and had them take showers.  As our skin cooled from the heat and our eyes adjusted from the sun, I began to see that they were all pretty sun burned.

We headed out to dinner, trying that elusive mexican restaurant again.  They’re closed on Monday’s.  😛  So we tried yet another mexican place.  Halfway through dinner Matt was horribly chilled and nauseous and we were all exhausted.  We stopped by the local IGA and picked up some aloe vera gel (with lidocaine!) and I slathered everyone in that, dosed them up on tylenol, and we vegged out watching Extreme Makeover Home Edition reruns on CMT.

Tuesday morning everyone woke up feeling utterly miserable.  I’ll be honest, I’ve not seen sun burns that bad.  Ever.  We did apply sunblock, but apparently spray-on sunblock doesn’t adhere well when you apply it in 20 mph winds.  Matt and I both felt horrible, not because of our own burns (mine were pretty mild really), but because of how the girls now felt.  It was clear we would not want another day at the beach, so we packed up and headed out as quickly as all our aching bodies would move.

So that we don’t lose track, let’s recap our events once again:

  • car sickness
  • shredded & duct taped car top carrier
  • smashed bumper
  • sever sun burns
  • sun sickness

Honestly, we were all feeling pretty darn discouraged by this time.  Vacation was not turning out at all like we had planned.  Matt stopped us all, we prayed.  We gave thanks for the good times we were having and for the discouragements we had faced so far.  We asked the Lord to be with the rest of the trip.  And then we headed out, carefully counting the columns lining the parking spaces.

Tomorrow: San Antonio and our (mis)adventures at near Sea World.

Girls Getaway

Last Friday, I loaded up a borrowed Camry and woke our oldest daughter up very early and we headed out for Chicago.  A birthday gift for her tenth, a chance for her and I to get away and talk about the things a mother needs to share with her growing-older, growing-up daughter, away from the interruptions and inconveniences of littler ones.  We drove for what seemed an endless 9+ hours, hitting repeated construction and a few rain storms.  We arrived exhausted but excited for the adventure of a city new to both of us.

We had a great time and good conversations.  She was not quite interested yet in some of the things we discussed, but the door at least has been opened and I can only remain available for her to walk through it in the future when she is ready to talk.  I got to know her better – this girl who only had us to herself for sixteen months before the intruders (younger sisters) started entering the scene.  I confirmed my belief that she is a lot like her dad and a lot like me.  She asks questions that he would ask, things that would never enter my mind.  She stumped me many times and I responded a lot with, “Grace, I just don’t know.” The first thing she did upon arriving in our hotel room was unpack her suit case into the drawers and lay everything out perfectly.  I laughed as I saw a glimpse of my pre-child self.

I grew tired of being the navigator and missed Matt greatly for this reason, among others.  But I left feeling stronger and satisfied, having learned my way around (a very small portion of) a huge city by myself.  I learned how to hail and take a taxi, how to understand (in a very small way) the bus maps and schedules, how to take the free trolley to Navy Pier, and how to find lots and lots of things on foot.

It was a great weekend for both of us.  These are memories she and I will both cherish forever.  Here are a few pictures from the weekend.  I’ll share more tomorrow.

A girl on a mission!

A photo with Mia and Lanie

After her shopping spree - a new outfit and earrings for Mia

Navy Pier Ferris Wheel

More Ferris Wheel

The birthday girl

Waiting in line for the Ferris wheel

I had a lot of fun taking pictures of this thing 😉

Navy Pier

Reflection

Skyline

The Sky Swing

More ferris wheel 😉

Sky swing at night

Flyer

Carousel

One of my favorite

Have a great Thursday!  We’ll see you tomorrow!

~ Sara

Colorado Road Trip, Day 4 – The Long Drive Home

We are finally coming to the end of our Griswald style vacation.  Just for the record, I don’t necessarily recommend dragging a four day trip out into four weeks of photo posts.  It’s really hard to remember the details of the last day or two once three or four weeks of daily minutiae have worked their way into all the crevices of one’s brain.  Regardless….we’ll give it a shot.

On day four we went to Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, the Will Rogers Shrine of the Sun, and then started the long trek home.  We drove into, through, and out of a spectacular (and rather frightening) western Kansas thunderstorm with a tornado running 9 miles to our south (thank you western Kansas meteorologist for the frequent updates) for a good 30 minutes.  We never saw the tornado – it was pitch black outside, only heard reports of it and scanned our phones and GPS and the trusty old atlas trying to find the small towns they were referring to.  God carried us through while my prayer life got a workout.  We made it home safely and I’ve never been so happy to not share a room with my children.  🙂

(To stop the slide show, float your mouse over the pictures and a square “stop” button should appear.  Feel free to scroll forward or backward through the photos at your own pace.)

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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!

~S

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!

~Sara

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.