Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Elvis Is In The Building!

We had the privilege of visiting a nearby museum to view their newest exhibit, " Elvis at 21". This museum generously opens its doors one morning a week for free so that everyone can enjoy the varied and interesting artwork, pottery, quilts, miniature dollhouses and other items. We have made it a habit to visit  every time the traveling collection changes. We have seen works from Picasso, Matisse, a handmade chair exhibit, and a portrait collection that included the gorgeous photo of the girl from Afganistan with the amazing green eyes that was on the cover of National Geographic when I was young.
"Elvis at 21" is a very sweet and poignant collection of candid photographs taken of Elvis Presley at the tender age of 21 years old when he was right on the cusp of becoming famous. The photographer, Alfred Wertheimer, rode on the bus with Elvis and accompanied him as he rehearsed for and performed on two television shows.The photos were beautifully displayed and interpreted in the wonderful exhibit.The kids were not really familiar with Elvis before the trip but Miss J. was able to recognize one of his songs later as a result of the video and music clips that they played in the background.
Although the acres of Gardens are not open for free, the picnic area is, and we packed a lunch to enjoy outside on this beautiful day.We brought the little guy with us and he was no trouble at all- in fact, he makes it a party!
After eating, the kids wandered around the enclosed picnic grounds and found a hidden treasure!
This enchanting fairy garden was nestled into the stump of an old tree!
The 20 month old gives some perspective on how small but arranged in exquisite detail this little village was.
Next, we headed over to the stone enclosed pool that is the source of a Spring. We could see many large rainbow trout in the water.
From the trout pool we could see a gaggle of geese inside the Gardens. Everything was so beautiful that it was natural to be filled with happiness and gratitude to the Creator. It was a real treat to be here and we knew it!

There's No Place Like Home...

There is no place like home and although Tori didn't arrive in a Balloon like Dorothy wanted to, she could have! This Hot Air Balloon flew right over the driveway on the same day that she arrived back at the airport.
She discerned that this missionary work was not for her and she decided to come home. Fortunately, her sponsors will all be offered their money back. Larry has said many times " There is no disgrace in retreat." We are very proud of her for trying it out and also for trusting her gut and being honest with herself when it was not for her.
She left on good terms and they were sorry to see her go. She realized that she didn't necessarily need "Sisters in Christ" when she had a houseful of sisters sitting right here on the couch! We welcome her back to continue to help us at home and to assist in the planning for her sister's wedding.
We are also thankful that she did try it because it was an honor to have been selected. She will not have to look back and say to herself  "I should have gone".  Like Dorothy, she may have discovered that  all the adventure one needs and the very  people that you care the most about  have been right here all along...!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Saying Good-bye

Tori has left on her extended mission trip and the past week has been busy in preparation for her flight. Here she is multi-tasking like any young person her age, keeping up on Facebook while texting and writing thank you notes to the kind people who have sent in donations to sponsor her.

She is making a sacrifice in that her computer had to be left at home since she really isn't allowed to have it. She will only be able to have access to her phone for 20 minutes per day. That is going to set up a painful withdrawal as Tori averages about 100 text messages a day.
For the past week I have noticed her spending special time with her beloved cats.Her biggest hope is that Duchess will still be alive when she gets home. Duchy is over 11 years old and is an outdoor cat.
Tori has made sure that Duchess and Princess are in the garage every night to protect them from predators.We will continue to do this while she is gone.
Here she is on her last day at home feeding Duchess a special meal of canned food that she had purchased.
She had been packing for a few weeks and handled it all on her own. She is very organized and independent and neither needed nor wanted any help in packing.
The young man that she has befriended joined us for dinner a few nights before she left. His advice to her was that if she was going to grow closer to the Lord, the trip would be worth it.
On her last night at home, we had a party and her best friend Lynnie was able to join us to say Good-bye. Lynnie, also, will soon be going into texting withdrawal since Tori will not have her phone!
The group went to Walmart to buy  refreshments and had a good time while at the store and after they got back.
We will miss her and ask everyone to please pray for her often as she undertakes this opportunity to carry the message of God's Love and Mercy to young Catholics.
Please help her, Dear Lord, to know your Holy Will,  and we beg of You to give her the strength to carry it out. Amen.

Hunter Safety

We signed Sam up for the Hunter Safety course offered and as I was leaving to take him to class I invited John to join us. I am so glad that I did because he was handed a course booklet and blaze orange pencil as we walked in and it was assumed that he was taking the free class!
The class took place over three consecutive evenings and was 3 1/2 hours long each night! It was given by local hunting experts who lectured and showed very interesting videos.The boys were able to pay attention well, especially because the material was so appealing to them.During the 10 minute breaks, they played outside with other boys the same age.
      I allowed each boy to have a dollar each night with which to buy a refreshment. Candy bars were available for sale and we brought our own water.This little treat made a big difference to them and they really appreciated it and looked forward to it each night. Four of our other children have taken this same course over the years.Topics discussed were firearms, archery, survival skills,ammunition, and tree stand safety among others.
       I learned that one should always tell someone else where they are going in the woods and matches should be carried in a waterproof container.We were told that many of those who die in the elements had what they needed to survive in their backpack but failed to use it. When a person starts to really shiver, they need to stop and build a fire to get warm. When the body temp starts falling, rational thought isn't possible.
I took the boys to two classes and their Dad was able to take them to the one in the middle.When they got home they discussed the ins and outs of deer hunting with our resident expert who often finds it easier to draw the details! Incidentally, all three of these guys are left-handed! On the last day, I encouraged them to study for the test that night. They were excited to see that it was a multiple choice test of 50 questions. They thought that they would have to write in the answers! Both boys passed and received not only a certificate, but also a wallet card and patch!

Tunnel of Fun

We began our adventure to Paw Paw Tunnel by stopping at one of our favorite stores to pick up a couple more flashlights.It was frustrating to find that in this store as in another one, it is cheaper to buy a brand new big flashlight which includes a large square battery than it is to just buy the battery to put into the identical flashlight we already own!
We met our group at a local landmark and caravanned about 45 minutes along curvy, winding roads to Paw Paw, WV to see a "tunnel" which I had never heard of until recently.Everyone had their flashlights and we were ready for exploring !

 Our party included six boys, all approximately the same size! They wanted to run ahead of us as usual. I can't quite figure out how much of this is acceptable or not. It's great to see them stretching their legs as long as they don't get out of sight. It's no fun for them to plod along with us older moms.
 Here is our first glimpse of the tunnel. This is a part of the C&O Canal.It was dug out using picks, shovels, dangerously unstable black powder and back-breaking labor. Begun in 1836 and completed in 1850, it took 15 years to build. Its purpose was  to save the barges pulled along by mules from going six miles along six curves of the Potomac River.It goes under a small mountain and is 3100 feet long (3/5ths of a mile).
Unfortunately, it was much more complicated to build than they had predicted and cost 5 times more than estimated. There was loss of life in this dangerous undertaking and ethnic fighting among the different groups of immigrant labor.It was completed in 1850. It was amazing to see!
The walkway is elevated and to the right of the canal which was only about a foot or two deep.This may have a lot to do with our dry summer.
The flashlights were very helpful and I wouldn't want to go through it without one
This young man went for the "miner's" experience.
Our party consisted of three brothers, two brothers and Evan. Evan was the common denominator in this group and was surrounded by his closest friends.
This is a glimpse of the tunnel looking backwards.
This is the light at the end of tunnel!
  These young ladies have known each other for many years.
Each of their little sisters are BFF's ( Best Friends Forever, of course!).
We took a few minutes to pose in this rocky spot!

We had heard that you could hike back over top of  the mountain but one of the moms was concerned about snakes as we had already seen one by then. We also thought that we might lose our boys who were jockeying for position as Leaders' of the pack! So, instead we walked further along the tow path and were treated to some interesting sights.
Doesn't this spider web look like it has a zipper in it? It must be some kind of repair that the spider made.
This turtle was slightly larger than the box turtles we see in the yard and was seen in the water.
This is the caterpillar that turns into a Luna Moth. It was about 4 inches long!
It is easy to see the mountain rock on each side that had to be blasted out to make the tunnel.
We walked for a distance and then headed back through the tunnel. I enjoyed the return trip even more than the first because we strolled in a leisurely manner and chatted along the way.
Then we enjoyed a picnic lunch in a large park area. I never "got " picnics before but I am seeing that everything tastes better out of doors, even peanut butter and jelly with water to drink!
Our group consisted of two homeschooling moms and two schoolteachers! We had plenty to talk about on this beautiful day.
This is the Potomac River further upstream than where we saw it last week at Harper's Ferry.

It was great to see this amazing tunnel and to enjoy the great outdoors with some old and new friends!