Adventures, The End

After our drive thru the Garden of the Gods, we headed south to Texas.

The drive thru Colorado a mixture of beauty and just okay.  Then we hit New Mexico.  Holy Cow!!!  What beautiful country.

The girls and I were excited to see something other than deer crossing signs.  Like bear crossings.  Elk crossings.  I think we even saw Moose crossing signs.

Of course seeing the signs was exciting.  Not quite sure how I would have felt actually seeing any of these animals in front of my vehicle.

Then we hit Texas.

Ummm!!!!  The drive across the border to Amarillo was not exciting.  There is nothingness there.  Some homes scattered about.  A few hills.  Some farms.  But mostly nothingness.  Miles and miles and miles of nowhere to stop.  That’s really not fun when a bathroom is needed.

We finally hit Amarillo and checked into our hotel.  A short time later my stomach began feeling rough.  Hubby took the 3 oldest to the pool and I stayed in the room, at times doubled over with severe stomach upset.  Was it something I ate?  Had I managed to contract the flu?  I didn’t know and really didn’t care.  I just wanted to feel better.

By morning I was feeling better and we were on the road again.  Destination – the Dallas area.

We spent 2 1/2 days with hubby’s sister, her husband and their granddaughter.  She has two kids in the area and her youngest son flew in from New York to spend the holiday weekend with family.  It was a wonderful time.

The day after Thanksgiving we avoided all shopping and headed to the Dallas Zoo.  After all the times we’ve spent in Dallas, this was our first visit to the zoo.  Hubby and our brother-in-law stayed home while the rest of us spent a few hours in the sunshine taking in the sights and sounds of the zoo.

When taking 7 kids, ages 7 and younger to the zoo, there is bound to be fun, tears, laughter, and a meltdown.  Mostly, it was fun and a nice day out.

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Then it was time to head home.  We had an overnight stop in Springfield, MO where we met up with some dear friends for dinner and visit.  Then our 10 days of travel were over and we were home.

Our trip was met with some challenges.  Traveling with 4 kids isn’t necessarily easy, but mostly we came home with good memories and are glad we hit the road for a few days.

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Adventures, Part 5 and 6

Our last day in Denver was spent at the Museum of Nature and Science.  We love a good museum and walked in not expecting a lot, but wanted to get some more educational opportunities in place for the kids on the trip.

The nice thing about having low expectations about something is you are less disappointed when something isn’t as good as you thought it would be.  This museum however, was not a disappointment at all.  It was very crowded, thanks to several school groups who were also visiting that day, but our only disappointment was that we didn’t get there earlier.

I did take pictures, but FS1 and/or FS2 are in the photos and I cannot publish those photos publicly.

We headed back to the hotel and I began packing for the next leg of our journey – Texas.

A good nights sleep.  Some breakfast.  The Suburban packed.  We were off.

We weren’t going to drive very far though.  One of the things I was most looking forward to seeing on the trip was on our way to Texas.  It was a cloudy, cold and windy day for an outdoor adventure, but I was not going to miss this site.

First stop, Garden of the Gods.

Holy Cow!!!!!!  I wish it would have been warmer and sunny, but this place is beautiful and I’ll leave you with some of the photos I captured.

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Adventures, Part 4

The hotel we stayed in had a wonderful breakfast included in the price of the room.  With 6 of us, that was a great savings and each morning we were able to leave the hotel with full tummies, ready to tackle our day.

On this particular day, we were taking a drive.  We headed south to Colorado Springs.  No offense to Denver, but IMO Colorado Springs is absolutely breathtaking.  The views are spectacular and it is less congested than Denver.

After a drive thru Colorado Springs we headed east into the country.  We were on our way to visit a special friend and to see her little farm.

With our desire to homestead growing stronger, I began searching out other blogs to hear about others homesteading experiences and to hopefully learn from them.  I became very interested in one particular blog.  As I continued to read I continued to learn more and discovered new interests.  One day, the writer invited her readers to go back to a time when having a pen pal was the thing to do.  Having had a pen pal in my younger years, I accepted the offer and we began writing letters back and forth.  Pen on paper.  We shared stories of our childhood, learned about our families and became good friends.

I also learned that the writer is a master herbalist and began learning more about herbal medicine and shopping on-line at her store.

Now we were on our way to have lunch with her, her husband, and some of their friends.

It was about an 1 1/2 hour drive from our hotel in Denver.  We were able to see the countryside, although our view of the mountains disappeared in the clouds.  I have absolute confidence it’s a beautiful view on a sunny day.

We finally arrived at the little farm and were greeted by other guests and our host, Katie.

We had a wonderful meal of soup, made from homegrown ingredients, and bread baked in the wood-heated oven.  The kids played while the adults chatted.  Lili wanted to see the chickens, Katie took Lili and me out to the coop.  For the first time ever, Lili and I were able to hold a chicken.  Lili fed the chickens.  She learned how to pick them up on her own.  She was in heaven and once again, I wished I had carried my camera out with us.

That afternoon was filled with smiles and laughter and I was thrilled to finally meet the woman I only knew from letters, pictures and blog posts.  It was a fantastic afternoon and one that remains high on my list of wonderful memories on our trip to Colorado.

Me and my pen pal friend, Katie.

Me and my pen pal friend, Katie.


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Adventures, Part 3

Saturday night in Denver was not as expected.  After our trip to Dinosaur Ridge, some rest at the hotel and a quick dinner, we headed out the door for our next Denver adventure to the Colorado Railroad Museum.  We had tickets to a very special event there.  We had been told about road construction, so hubby mapped out an alternate route.  Since we didn’t know exactly how long it would take to get there, we allowed ourselves an hour.  If we were early, we could check out the museum a bit, but we certainly didn’t want to be late.

By this time, it was getting dark quickly and we were on our way.  Then it happened.  We hit traffic.  It was bumper to bumper and hopefully wouldn’t last long, but it continued.  And continued.  And continued.  The clock kept on ticking as we inched our way along.  Then suddenly hubby saw a road sign and realized he hadn’t taken us on the alternate route, but had taken us directly into the road construction traffic.

At this point we began preparing the kids for the possibility of not making it to our event in time as we continued to look for an opening in the traffic.

Emotions were high.  Patience was short.  All we could see ahead were hundreds and hundreds of tail lights.

With just a few minutes to spare, we made it to our exit and as quickly as we could we made our way to the museum.  We jumped out of the Suburban and ran into the building, checked in and were escorted to our train on to discover they didn’t seem to have room for our family.  I had purchased tickets prior to leaving Illinois and there was room when I purchased the tickets, but now it appeared our family was a little large for the seats that were available.  After some discussion among the employees, we were escorted to our seats on the train.  It was room enough for 4 and we were a family of 6.  Fortunately, we are a family of 6 with some small children, so we made it work.  Yet hubby and I were less than thrilled with the way things had been going thus far and our excitement about the event had since vanished.

Now seated the show began.  We were taking a ride on the Polar Express.

Actors began dancing in the aisles as the Hot Chocolate song was sung over the speakers.  Hot chocolate was then served to each ticket holder on the train and soon actors began walking the aisles with a very large Polar Express book.  The story was being read as they turned the pages.  We sipped hot chocolate wondering what would happen once the story was done.

With the last page turned, we sat there.  And sat there.  And sat there.  Hubby and I looking at each other wondering if we had just spent all the money, sat in all the traffic, gone thru all the stress getting there only to hear a song and have some hot chocolate while the story was read.  Certainly not!!!!

Then we were escorted off the train and still confused as to what was happening when we heard someone say we were going to board the Polar Express.

We made our way to another set of tracks and stood watching another performance of the show.  Music from the Polar Express movie played and finally, around the bend we saw the smoke and heard the train whistle.  A steam engine came chugging into the station as excitement built.

Everyone was taken to their train cars and we boarded the train.  An old-fashioned steam engine that would be taking us on the Polar Express train ride.

The train began to move.  Along the way we saw different scenes from the movie were being acted outside the train along the route.

Eventually I realized that I had not had my camera out and began digging thru all our things to find my camera.  when suddenly I looked up to see FS1’s eye’s widen.  He reached his hands out and said, “Hi Santa”.  Santa had boarded the train behind me.  The expression on FS1’s face was priceless and I didn’t have my camera out.  But he was in awe!

Santa greeted each of the kids asking if they believed and then handing each of them a jingle bell as they responded, “Yes.”

Once Santa had greeted each child on the train, he got off the train and the ride continued.  We were given a bag of Polar Express hot chocolate mugs and the ride was over.  All the stress and frustration of the drive gone.  All the frustration over appropriate lack of seating gone.  My disappointment over not taking any pictures still lingering, but mostly replaced with wonderful memories of our ride on the Polar Express.

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That’s my Rant

As some of you may know, there is a new movie in town. Actually, it’s a remake of an old movie – “Annie.”

I’m quite sure most, if not all are familiar with this movie. A little girl is being raised in an orphanage. The woman running the orphanage is horrible to the kids. Annie finds her way out to a better life. Yada, yada, yada.

This time around Annie isn’t in an orphanage, but in a foster home. Annie is not white, she’s black.  Her foster mom is not a nice woman.  Annie finds her way out to a better life.  Yada. yada. yada.

While I have not seen this movie, this movie is most certainly stirring negative emotions within the foster care community. Or at least it is causing a stir within some of our local foster care community.

Foster parents certainly don’t want to be portrayed as horrible, money hungry, kid-hating people. And while I know most foster parents are not at all like the foster parent portrayed in Annie, nice loving foster parents won’t make Hollywood a lot of money. Also, for those who haven’t done foster care, let me just tell you that running a home daycare would earn someone a lot more money than foster care does. So the movie probably doesn’t do a great job of depicting the truth about foster care. But that’s not my point here.

My rant is not about the modern-day version of Annie. My rant is that a foster parent or any parent for that matter, took their child(ren) to see a movie, rated PG and then complained about the content.

So let me start by sharing the definition of a PG rated movie.

A PG-rated film may not be suitable for children. The MPAA says a PG-rated should be checked out by parents before allowing younger children to see the movie. There could be some profanity, some violence, or brief nudity, however there will not be any drug use in a PG film.

Seriously, I understand how touchy we can be as foster and/or adoptive parents. We don’t want our children subjected to material that may cause them more emotions distress. But what part of a PG rating would make any parent, foster or otherwise, think that the content would be perfectly fine for their child(ren) to see? Especially if those children are your foster children.

This is a PG rated film that may not be suitable for children and should be checked out by parents before allowing younger children to see the movie. If you neglected to take the rating into consideration and did not review the movie first, then don’t complain about the content. Simply share your concerns about the movie with others who may find your review helpful and then move on.

Now, as parents, we are not perfect. We all make mistakes. Sometimes we don’t use our best judgment. But let’s use these opportunities to learn and to teach. Talk about the content of the movie. Talk to your children about the truth of foster care. Make sure they understand that actors playing a role in a movie doesn’t necessarily represent reality. Most of all, if you don’t want to have these conversations with your child(ren), then don’t review a PG rated movie with them. See it by yourself first and then decide if you think the content is something they can handle.

That’s my rant.


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Adventures, Part 2

After our trip to Ohio, I quickly unpacked, did laundry and began repacking. We had three days home before we loaded up the Suburban. This time we were heading west to Denver, CO.

Hubby and I had both spent some time in Colorado, but neither of us had been to Denver. We were looking forward to seeing the area and this trip would prove to be quite the experience with 4 kids.

That Thursday, FS1 got off the bus from school, we finished loading up and then headed out. I can’t say I was looking forward to the drive. When it comes to travel, I prefer to drive. Not that I don’t like flying, but I enjoy seeing the landscape along the way. However, I wasn’t necessarily looking forward to the landscape across Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska. No offense to those residing in those particular states. I just don’t find the landscape to my liking. I like hills, mountains, large bodies of water and I didn’t expect to see a lot of hills, mountains or large bodies of water on the drive. Unfortunately, my concern were validated. The drive was pretty boring and the closer we got to Colorado, the more anxious I became. I longed to see mountains in the distance and we just couldn’t seem to get there soon enough.

After a stop-over in Omaha for the night and more hours of driving, we crossed the state line into Colorado. The flat lands began to disappear and we soon found ourselves climbing to a high elevation. Everything was brown and not what I was expecting, but then it happened. In the distance I saw the mountains. It was a beautiful sight!

We finally reached the hotel where we would stay for the next 4 nights.

During our time in Denver we visited Dinosaur Ridge. The kids, specifically Lili, were especially excited to see real dinosaur fossils.

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I too enjoyed seeing the fossil, but loved the landscape even more.

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After Dinosaur Ridge and lunch, we headed back to the hotel for some rest before our next Denver adventure.

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Adventures, Part I

I’m not sure I have ever had this much time between posts, yet life seems to have taken its toll on the blog.  I could promise to write posts more regularly, but I must be realistic.  With 4 kids, the Holidays, school, a house, dogs, and all the other activities this month, my posts will more than likely be sporadic at best.  For this, I apologize.  I much prefer reading blogs over Facebook posts and find myself frustrated that some of my favorite bloggers have resorted to ignoring their blogs.  Now, I find myself in the same position.  What I will promise is to try to write more regularly than I have.

With that said, let me share with you all that has happened in the World of Weeks.

The weekend of December 14th – 16th, we were in Sandusky, OH at Kalahari Water Park and Resort.  We joined some other families who have children from Guatemala for a weekend of watery fun.  One of the families in attendance was very familiar to us.  Or maybe I should say their daughter was very familiar to us.

Before Lili’s adoption was completed, she lived with her foster-mother and her 3 children.  In this same foster home was another baby girl.  She was only there a short time when her birth mother changed her mind and decided to parent her.  A short time later, another baby girl moved into the foster home.  Her name was Emma.  For the next several months, these two baby girls were loved and cared for by their foster family.

I met Emma during my two visits to see Lili while waiting for her adoption to be completed.

Finally, everything was finalized on both girls and Emma went home with her family.  A few weeks later we brought Lili home.

I’ve kept in contact with Emma’s family over the years and we had the privilege of finally meeting them (minus dad was had to work) and seeing Emma again at Kalahari.  The girls left Guatemala as babies and were together again as 7-yr-olds.  It was a great reunion.

Because I did not get permission to post Emma’s picture, I will not be sharing those photos.  However, stay tuned for more adventures from the World of Weeks as well as some awesome pictures.

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