Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Big D Turns Eight

Today is Daniel's or as we affectionately call him Big D's eighth birthday. He is my littlest guy but he has a big heart. Always willing to help and always smiling...Daniel lights up any room he enters. It is hard to believe that it has been three years since Daniel entered our lives with quite a bang. We have had our challenges since he joined our family for sure, but Daniel is also probably my most consistently happy child. Even when he is sick, Big D is going 100 mph from the time he gets up to the time he goes to bed. He is inquisitive and jovial and tells me so often how much he likes me!! We like him too, and can't imagine life without him. He teaches me everyday what it means to persevere and have patience and I can't believe how much he has grown and changed over the last three years. With his big boy teeth in the front he looks so very grown up. Happy Birthday Big Guy!!

Monday, October 20, 2008

My Five Chickens

After we finished in DC we headed back to the farm for a few more days with our sweet friends. Melissa took these adorable pictures of our kiddos with one of the Bard Rock Chickens. This is the prettier of the two kinds of chickens that they have. Brent brought her up from the egg mobile for her photo session. That night we were having our yummy mexican dinner outside and she decided that she really wanted to join us. She proceeded to jump up on the table several times and wreak a little havoc on our dinner plans. Ana to the rescue...she pulled her off of the table and we went on eating!! Fun memories!

Chicken James
Chicken Peter
Chicken Emma
Chicken Daniel
And last but certainly not least...Chicken Ana
The next day it was time for us to head for home. We were very sad to leave and can't wait for our friends to come back to Arizona next month. However we will treasure so many memories from this grand adventure. Hopefully we can return to this part of the country some day for a visit or perhaps longer. Until then we will continue to wait on the Lord...here in brown but beautiful Arizona!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Few More Washington Photos

Thought I would post a few more of our favorite photos from the monuments.

The Washington Monument and reflecting pool view from the Lincoln Memorial
The Vietnam Memorial
Vietnam Memorial Statue
Mr. Lincoln
Our trooper kiddos before our long trek back to the subway. They did an outstanding job with all the walking that we did. Boy were we happy to get to the metro station though...wheew!

Washington Adventure: Part Two

After leaving the Library of Congress we headed next door to the Supreme Court Building. What an amazing site it was. How many country changing decisions have been made in this building. Quite awe inspiring. From there we headed to the Museum of American Indians which was at the top of our children's list of must see places. We had a wonderful lunch at their food court which has an amazing assortment of Native American cuisine. It is divided into regions...some of our samples included salmon, native american tacos, indian fry bread and of course for our more picky eaters...chicken and fries!! After lunch we toured around the exhibits which detail the lives of American Indians today as well as a lot of their history. There was a neat bead work exhibit as well as pottery and indian dolls. Next we headed for the Air and Space Museum which is right next door thankfully. Robert was thrilled about seeing all of the different treasures that this museum had to offer as were the boys. I have to admit though that the girls and I were pooped! We decided to let the boys explore and we went to McDonald's for a shake and some fries and some nice chairs. After some rest we rejoined our boys and Emma went with them to some of the other exhibits including the Wright Brother's area which was a favorite with all of them. Ana and I ended up camping out on the floor to people watch and Ana took a much needed cat nap. This rounded out our first day of touring. The one down side to the day was when we got back to the van we realized it had been broken into while we were gone. Thankfully my sweet husband was very smart and took pretty much everything out of any value and they only ended up taking four of the kids DVDs. One of them being Bible Man so we are hopeful that perhaps they will watch it and repent!! We filed a police report and headed for the camp ground...exhausted.

The Supreme Court
My weary kiddos at Air and Space...in front of the Spirit of St. Louis
After our adventure with the van we decided to take the Metro for our second day of touring. We were off and running to the first bus of the day which took us to the Metro station and on to downtown. Our first stop of the day was the National Archives which we were all excited about seeing. Since we have been studying early American history and specifically the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution this was thrilling for all of us. We spent some time looking over all the documents and snapping a lot of photos and then moved onto the gift shop! We found lots of treasures including copies of all the important documents and a copy of Poor Richard's Almanack for me written by Benjamin Franklin. Another person we had studied extensively last year.
Outside the National Archives
Next we headed to the Naval Museum. Peter especially enjoyed this spot looking at all the Naval uniforms and getting more info about a tour of duty of a naval officer in a very interesting film. We hit the Hard Rock Cafe for lunch and then went to see the house where Lincoln died. Ford's Theater across the street is closed for renovation but we did see the outside of it. Next we walked to the White House and then over to the monuments. We were able to see the Washington, WWII, Vietnam and our personal favorite...Lincoln. We have been reading a photo biography about him since we returned from our trip and it is great to have the visual of the places that he lived and worked fresh in our minds.
After the monuments we trudged back to the subway, very weary but happy to have seen so much of this amazing city. Hopefully we will be able to go back again someday and see some of the things we missed, but we feel like for our first trip we saw the main highlights...memories we will have for a life time!

A nice view of the White House from over by the Washington Monument.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Washington Adventure Day One

Our adventure in DC began at the US Capitol. We had gotten to the Smithsonian before it opened so we decided to take a walk down to the Capitol. We ended up walking down there and then around the other side to the Library of Congress, which I must admit was my favorite attraction...book junky that I am. Emma and I were sad to find out though that you can't actually see and touch the books except for through a glass window overlooking the rotunda. We were quite sad about this but it was fun just to be there. They also had a wonderful display set up of part of Thomas Jefferson's personal library. It had some interactive computers next to it, where you could pick a book and actually read excerpts from it on the computer screen. There was also a neat display with some of the original drafts of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. James, Peter, and Emma were thrilled to know that even the authors of these fantastic documents wrote rough drafts with scribble marks all over them. Pretty amazing stuff!

My handsome family in front of the Capitol
A very nice lady was kind enough to snap this one for us. The sun was still in the way in the east so it was a little challenging to be able to actually get us and the building in the photo without tremendous glare.
This was taken near the reflecting pool by the Capitol. That was something that I had forgotten was there. I knew there was one between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial but I didn't remember this one. Very pretty area.
The Capitol Squirrels...we had fun with the kids pointing out different squirrels. There were the Capitol Squirrels, the White House Squirrels, the Lincoln Memorial Squirrels...you get the idea. What can I say we don't see a lot of squirrels in Arizona...and we are kind of dorks!! :)
The Library of Congress

Friday, October 10, 2008

A Surprising Wonder

Luray Caverns, Virginia was a pleasant surprise along our journey up to Washington DC. A beautiful walk through this enormous cavern reveals some of God's handiwork in an amazing way. The children were amazed at all the stalactites and stalagmites throughout the cavern and the interesting formations that they create. Our favorite highlights were hearing the stalactite organ play and spending a moment with the lights out down in the cavern. I don't think I have ever been in a place that dark.

Me and my honey!!
Adventure Buddies
Sweet Friends

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Sweet Girls and Sweet Fellowship

One of the things that is wonderful about being on the farm is the freedoms that you can allow your children. Melissa and I turned our sweet girls loose one of the days we were there asking them if they wanted to go on a solo adventure to pick wild flowers in the Ranger. Abigail has been learning how to drive it and was anxious to show her friend what she had learned. With wide eyes they said a most definite "Yes!" and before we knew it they were off. We both gulped and agreed that this was a small taste of what it will be like to send them off in a car together someday...yikes!! All was well and they had a wonderful time and brought back some gorgeous Queen Anne's Lace which they arranged in a beautiful bouquet for us! I know just yesterday they were four and in dance class together...my how the time does fly.

Off on their grand adventure
Sweet Emma
Sweet Abigail

The Heart of Our Journey

Our original reason for making this incredible journey was to visit our dear friends Brent and Melissa's farm in Virginia. They have been farming on the most amazing God created piece of land this summer and fall and we were privileged to get a glimpse of their life during our trip. They have been raising broiler chickens, some happy cows and laying hens and are having a marvelous time doing it. How amazing to see their three children, who are dear friends of our kiddos, Abigail, Samuel and Ethan working this farm right along side their parents. What a gift Brent and Melissa have given them to be involved in this lifestyle. So much slower paced and the bonus of being in some of the prettiest country I have ever been in. This Arizona girl was smitten with all the green rolling hills and beautiful flowers growing everywhere.

Robert was able to help Brent with morning chores (way too early for me to even think about helping). Then we all took our turns gathering, washing, weighing and cartoning eggs. All of the children loved pitching in. But our Sweet Ana was definitely the most eager to get down and dirty with the chickens. I was amazed at her fearlessness, pulling chickens off their nests and scooping up as many eggs as her basket would hold. I think we have a future farmer in our family!!

Here is the amazing view from near one of the egg mobiles truly breathtaking. How fun to wiz to the top of the hill in the Ranger and see this amazing view. Melissa was even brave enough to let me drive the Ranger one time, I almost made her regret it by going just a tad too fast down a hill!
Here is our sweet farm girl doing her thing in the egg mobile. It was her favorite time of the day.
Sweet friends Peter and Samuel. They had missed each other so much. Samuel was wonderful about showing the boys all the ins and outs of farm life. What a blessing to be able to turn the kids loose and let them ride bikes and just explore without fear. Something definitely not possible in the city.
Here are Mr. Brent's happy cows. One of the most amazing sites to behold. Each day around 3:00 Brent goes to move the cows to a new area of grass. They are surrounded by electric fence, and feast on a diet of yummy grass. Each day when Brent goes to move them they frolic and can't wait to follow him to the new pasture. It is quite a site to see 500 cows following a man as if he were the pied piper. Robert got to call them, one of the days that we were there and he loved every minute of it.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Blessing my Husband's Heart

Our next day of travel took us through the beautiful state of Tennessee where we landed in Pigeon Forge for the night. It was a very long day of travel and we were all exhausted when we finally reached our destination. The one conciliation for all of us was that Pigeon Forge just happens to have a Johnny Carino's Restaurant. For those of you that know us well you know how much this means to us. For those who don't it is just about our favorite restaurant for so many reasons...Italian Nachos, Chicken Pasta, Chocolate cake...and the list goes on. We used to have one of these wonderful places in Prescott Valley, but alas it went out of business, so any time we visit a place that has one it is definitely on our list of stops. The next day we slept in a bit and then headed for Virginia and our wonderful friend's farm. On the way we just so happened to pass through the town of Bristol, Tennessee home to one of NASCAR's famous tracks. If you know Robert you know that NASCAR is one of his favorite things in life. And since we gave up television a few years ago he has only been able to get updates online and catch an occasional race when we are at a hotel. So when we saw the signs for the race track his face lit up. We ended up stopping there for lunch in the trailer and taking a look around the track. It is actually a very small track, and shaped very much like a paper clip according to my beloved! It blessed him to see it, perhaps someday we can even attend the actual race...smile!!

Had to get a shot from out the window...Robert says it turned out great.
Robert sneaked a quick peak inside to get this photo.
Compared to the Phoenix track which we visited earlier this year, this is tiny!