Monday, October 31, 2016

Our camping trip~Petit Jean 2016

I was so thankful when we FINALLY got to the campground.  We had a rough time leaving Memphis, because of a bike rack issue.  When we thought we had finally gotten it resolved, the part that held the rack on Todd's truck snapped, and two bikes flew off into the interstate, and the other two stayed on, dragging on the road.  Out of the four bikes, three are trash.

I cried, I confess.  The bikes represented their childhood years to me, and it just seemed like the end of an era.  Not that we won't replace Jonah's and Noah's~we will.  But Graham and Drew don't even want replacement bikes.  Graham's has been broken for a long time and he was using Todd's, and that is the one bike that can be fixed.  Once I finally got over that, I was better and God gave us a spectacular view for the remainder of our trip.

We arrived before dark and got the tent set up while the sun was still out.  This was not our tent, but look how cute!


So, let me tell you about this trip and how we got started and who all went.  (There were a bunch of us!)  Our neighbors (Alex's aunt and uncle) have been friends with these families since they were in the young married class at their church.  Their kids all grew up together and now all their kids are grown with kids of their own.  Three years ago, they invited Jonah and Noah to come along on the trip, and once they got to know them, they decided to invite the rest of our family the following year.  So we were a late add-on, really, all because of our relationship with Alex, and they invite us back each year.  I feel so honored to be added into this mix of wonderful people, and they treat us like their own family.  They love our boys and us well, and vice versa.  The families that go are the Hansens, the Jamesons, the Stubblefields (and their kids and grands, the Baldridges), and the Laughters and their daughter Melinda.  There were twenty two of us there, total.  We arrived Thursday around dinner time, and the Baldridges and Melinda arrived around the same time the next night.

On Friday, we stayed at the campsite.  Some people played dominoes, I read, and we all just relaxed after the HUGE breakfast we ate.

On Saturday after breakfast, we loaded up and went up to a nearby lodge (Mather's Lodge) and some of the group hiked down to a waterfall.  The rest of us stayed up at the lodge and left at one point to go to the overlook to watch for them.





Todd entertained Carson for a bit while we were at the overlook.

After this, we went back to the campground and got started on dinner.  We eat REALLY well on this trip.  Our first night we had each brought our own meat, and we also ate baked potatoes and salad.  We had huge breakfasts, small lunches and the second night ate hamburgers and hot dogs.  Our last night was my favorite: hot dogs, chili and potato soup.  Before we ate dinner, we went to Petit Jean's gravesite and overlook to watch the sunset.






(The little girl with Todd is Ruby, a little thief of hearts.  She is PRECIOUS and was enamored with Jonah the entire trip.)

The next morning, we had cereal for breakfast, packed up and left, ate lunch at Wendy's nearby and headed home.


Here are all the kiddos on the trip.

It was a great weekend, and even in spite of the lost bikes, fun was had by my boys.  The Hansens were gracious to let them use their bikes the whole time, and they just took turns.

This was our first camping trip as a family in two years, and I am so thankful we had the chance to go.

Love to all!  I am off to do the mountains of laundry.


Thursday, October 27, 2016

Retro Night (in the youth)

The Wednesday before Halloween is always such a fun night with the teenagers at church.  I wasn't going to dress up, but at the last minute, decided to dress up as the later 80's/early 90's.  I wore a "boyfriend shirt" and scrunch socks and my hair was up in a half pony tail.

Here are some other looks from the night.


Sandy, Danny and Kinickie from Grease.  (Check out the red shoes!)


These cuties were the cast from Friends.  Left to right: Rachel, Joey, Phoebe, Monica, Chandler and Ross.


The gang from The Little Rascals.  Jonah was Spanky and Noah was Uh Huh.



My boys and their best friends went as the Smurfs.  I don't know that I knew that the Smurfs had tails.  I almost spewed my cereal across the table when I saw their friend Tom (2nd from left) sit down on that tail.


Fun and sweet friends.  :)


Betty and Barney from The Flintstones.


The Power Puff Girls.  (I want to dress like that all the time.)


Pebbles and Bam Bam.  Jason and Sunday were Fred and Wilma.  They were adorable.

It was a fun night!  It was hotter than Hades with me in flannel, but it was still a great night and one of my favorites of the whole year.

Well, I have a to-do list a mile long, and I need to get on it.  We leave today for a three night camping trip to Petit Jean state park in Arkansas.  I'll be back on Monday!

Love to all.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

trip to New York, part 2

After breakfast Wednesday morning, we (with all our belongings) got onto a shuttle for the last time and went to the train station.  We arrived at our destination about forty five minutes later, then we switched to the subway.  I will stop here and say that you should have seen us.  Two adults.  Three large and heavy suitcases.  One weeny wife who needed her husband to lift the big one.  Switching from train to train was fun (said sarcastically) and none of the elevators worked.  When we finally reached our final stop, you should have seen us walking the thirteen miles (or so it seemed) to our hotel with all our junk.


I needed a serious nap afterward.  But then I saw our room's view, and I was better.  Todd hooked us up with a corner room with two walls to view the city.  It was magnificent.

We left and went off to lunch.  After walking a while, we reached where my friend Rachel recommended that we go.


Carnegie Deli.  It was delicious and we shared the hot pastrami sandwich and a giant slice of chocolate/peanut butter pie.  We earned every calorie, trust me.  After lunch, we went to the Rockefeller Plaza and to the top of the Rock.


We won't talk about how I almost threw up on the elevator because they turned off the lights and you could look up and see yourself zooming up to the 67th floor of the building.  I leaned on Todd and looked at the people around me instead.

After this, we stayed in the building for a long time.  It was like an indoor mall on the bottom floor.  Seriously.


There were all these shops and restaurants, and we managed to find another Starbucks with an outlet so we could sit and recharge our phones.  This drink you see is a venti cold brew.  No cream, no sugar.  My friend Chandler got me hooked on these in the spring at D Now, and it refueled me and kept me going for the rest of the long day.

From here, we got back on the subway and went to Central Park.




It's crazy to think of this massive park in the middle of NYC, but it was gorgeous.  We found Bethesda Terrace and just sat and people watched for a long time.

The actual terrace that you see in that middle picture is where part of 27 Dresses was filmed.

I loved this afternoon.  It was so tiring but so relaxing, all at the same time.  We just sat on a bench, Todd with his arm around me, and laughed and talked.

By this time, it was around five thirty or six and would be getting dark soon, so we left and started to make our way back to the subway.


We walked slow and took in the sights.  This church was beautiful!  When we finally got to the subway, we were crammed in there like sardines and had people shoulder to shoulder.  We reached our hotel and ordered dinner to be delivered and I was asleep by eight thirty or nine.  I'm not even kidding.

Thursday was our last day in the city, and we were up early and ready to go.  It was going to be a long day.

Our first stop was to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.




It was beautiful and sobering and moving and tragic, all at the same time.  We both teared up several times, especially when seeing all the names and faces of those who lost their lives that day.


This is a firetruck that was buried under ashes and ruble.


I am so glad we did this.  With the exception of Sunday, this was my favorite part of our trip.  I cannot recommend enough that you do this if you ever get the chance to go to NYC.

After this, we made our way to the Hudson river, where we thought we would catch a boat tour of the city.  We ate at a Subway along our way, and fifteen minutes after leaving, found the Hudson.


However, we walked to the wrong place and did not find the boat tour.  It was beautiful, though!  We walked slowly back where we came from and finally reached the subway again and called it an afternoon.  We went back to the hotel for naps and to change before our evening out.


This picture above was actually called a park.  And the pigeons?!  Goodness, you might trample them, because they do not move!


I liked the look of this building.

I actually slept on the subway ride, with my head up and bobbling around and people everywhere around me, and before this trip, I never would have believed one could do that.  It was a nice fifteen minute nap, though.

We left refreshed and ready for a late night out in the city.

We ate dinner at a place one of my girls from community group recommended.


It was really good!  We shopped for souvenirs for the boys and I stood in front of The Majestic and waited for Todd as he came back from the M&M store.


We talked to people in line before us from Tennessee and got thoroughly homesick while doing so.

We saw Phantom of the Opera, and it was amazing.  Seriously.  I did not want it to end!


We found another Starbucks on our way back to the subway and our hotel and crashed the minute we got there.  It was after midnight.  And this city literally never sleeps.  Look at all these people out so late!  Amazing.

The next day we slept in, had breakfast, I took an epic two hour nap, then we packed up and left for the airport.

This was the greatest trip I have ever been on.  My sweet husband planned this for two years and made sure that all the things on my list got checked off.  He researched and worked himself to death to make sure that it would happen, and I can never thank him enough.  He did a magnificent job of making me feel cared for, safe and protected and thoroughly treasured.  If you're reading this, thank you, Toddley.  I love you more than words can express.

Even though it was wonderful, I have never been so glad to be back at home in the South and to see my boys.  There is no place like home.

Love to all.


Monday, October 24, 2016

trip to New York, part 1

Have I ever mentioned how much I hate saying goodbye?  And how much I hate flying?  I do.  To both of those.  I did cry (only a tiny bit in the car and I hid it on the way to the airport) but was quickly fine after saying goodbye.  Todd had Graham drive us to the airport and after they dropped us off, they went to his parent's house to help them with something.  From there they came home to let the dogs out, then went to Mom's and Bill's for dinner.  They stayed alone the first night and all camped out in my room, with the exception of Graham, who slept in the playroom.

We made it to Long Island (Commack) around seven, got to the hotel and were eating dinner by eight thirty.  There was diner in the parking lot of our hotel, and we just walked over to eat and walked back.  It didn't seem like a diner, because the food was fancy and the atmosphere was nice.  We shared a meal, complete with dessert, and there was so much food that we took it back with us to the hotel so I could eat the leftovers for lunch on Monday.

We made our plans and figured out where we were going for the next day, and we called it a night.  I fell asleep so fast, I didn't even watch Gilmore Girls for more than twenty minutes.

On Sunday morning, we got up and ate breakfast and had the hotel shuttle take us to the train station.

This was Deer Park train station (they said it like dee-uh pah-k).  We boarded the train and headed into the city.  The destination was Penn Station.  From Penn Station, we switched to the subway (all underground at this point, and there are multiple levels of the subway station) and got off somewhere in Brooklyn.  Because we were going to church!



For YEARS, I have been watching the Brooklyn Tabernacle choir on YouTube videos, and I've sung so many of their songs in my church choirs.  It was totally surreal being there and worshiping alongside so many people of different races.  I crave that kind of service, and I spent a good portion of that morning in church moved to tears.  I know you find that hard to believe.  ;)  The church has three services: nine a.m., eleven a.m. and one p.m.  The seats are all taken too, and fills from the front to the back.  Todd was in heaven because we sat right behind the tech booth.

We sang so many songs, and it was an amazing morning of worship.

Right before we left, the lady that had sat next to me hugged me and told me she loved me.  I said it back to her, of course, because I do love everyone, and I will see her again someday in heaven.

From church, we walked around Brooklyn.  We found a place to go for pizza and just went by foot.  It was gorgeous that day, and about sixty five degrees outside.




I loved Brooklyn more than any other part of the city.  Everything was so pretty and quaint, and we had the best lunch that day at some little pizza place, and we ate outside.  From lunch we found a Starbucks, because Todd's phone was dying and we sat at the window and people watched until we had a hundred percent charge on our phones.  A strange man yelled at me for skipping line at the bathroom (I didn't SEE a line, so it was accidental).  #rude

We walked around the city for the rest of our time in Brooklyn, and at about four, we got on a subway and headed to upper Manhattan.

I decided that I hate Times Square.  It's for the partying type of people, and the only type of party I enjoy is at home, in my pajama's and with a good movie on the tv.  We somehow managed to walk through there twice, and it was more than enough.

I loved Rockefeller Plaza.



Here we are, about to video call Jonah.
 

We walked all around the Plaza for a good long while, and we went in the Lego store, which was amazing.  We finally found a good place for dinner, but when we got there, the line was too long to get in, so we went to plan b and ate at a place with no line.  My foot that I fractured last year was KILLING me and I needed to just sit for a long time.

We got back on the train around seven and got back to the hotel by about eight thirty, after a scary shuttle ride in which the driver took us through the property of a mental hospital.

On Monday and Tuesday, Todd had class and I stayed at the hotel.  I read, I watched a movie and shows that I like, I caught up on Bible study and I read an entire book.


On Monday night for dinner, we ate at a Japanese steakhouse.



We had another interesting shuttle ride, in which Todd had to navigate our driver, because he was new to the area.  Try doing that with someone who speaks very little English.

On Tuesday night we walked to Chick Fil A nearby us, but it was not open for business yet.  We continued walking around the block, going to Lowe's and then back to the hotel, before deciding on going back to the diner we ate at on Saturday night.

The next morning we had plans of eating breakfast and heading into NYC for the final part of our trip.  I'll write about that tomorrow, though, I have a list of things to do that's a mile long.

Love to all!