Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Rachel's Big Move

I have wanted to blog about Rachel's move, but just never seem to find take the time to sit down and write!  Rachel auditioned last March for a trainee position with Light of the World Ballet in Syracuse, New York.  She was accepted and was finally at peace with plans for the next step beyond high school.  Wow - Syracuse, NY - do you know how far that is from Greenwood, Arkansas??  It is just over 1300 miles!! That is a long way to move your baby girl.  

We spent the summer preparing for the big move, but summer sure passed quickly and before I knew it the day had come and it was time to leave.  The plan was that I would drive to Syracuse with Rachel, help her settle in and then fly back home.  Rachel packed her car to the brim.  Literally, there was hardly an inch of space left to fill!  We drove to Effingham, Illinois the first day.  The second day we set the GPS for Millersburg, Ohio in the heart of Holmes County, Ohio which is the largest Amish community in the world.  We spent the night in an Amish Bed and Breakfast - The Barn Inn . When I first suggested this idea while planning our trip, Rachel was not thrilled with the idea.  I have always been intrigued by the Amish way of life, however, and decided it was just too close to our route to not make the side trip.  Rachel and I both enjoyed the beautiful drive through the Ohio countryside.  We checked in to our beautiful room at The Barn Inn and then explored the grounds.  Rachel loved the farm animals and beautiful landscaping! We had a wonderful dinner at an Amish restaurant, and yes, we did have pie for dessert!  We enjoyed sitting on the back porch of the B&B in the evening and then watched a movie.  We were treated to a bountiful breakfast the following morning and Loretta, the owner of the inn, gave a very informative talk about the area during breakfast.  One of the recommended stops was a "basket house" where the family makes baskets and sells them from their house.  Rachel was very interested so we found our way through the countryside to the basket house.  We were greeted by the small children who showed us the way to the room where they sell the baskets.  The mom was making jelly that day and it was unbelievable how many jars of juice she had sitting ready to make into jelly!!  It was an awesome experience to visit briefly with the family and purchase a few baskets and a jar of jelly.  Each child (when old enough) participates in making the baskets and each basket is marked by the child who made it.  After we left the basket house we continued on our way, stopping at the J. M. Smucker Company Store and Cafe in Orrville, OH.  The store carried every product made by Smucker's.  We finally found our way back to the interstate and continued on toward Syracuse.  We spent way more time than we thought we would in Amish Country so we ended up arriving in Syracuse a bit later than we had planned.  We BOTH loved our time in Ohio and hope to visit the area again.  As we entered NY, I remember being amazed at the vineyards along the interstate highway.  I never realized they grew grapes there.  We continued on through New York via the New York State Thruway in the dark and rain.  I was very happy when we finally arrived in Syracuse!!  When we arrived at Rachel's house, we were warmly welcomed by several of the girls who were already there.  After a quick visit, the girls helped us unload Rachel's car before we left for a night at the hotel.  

I stayed in a hotel while in Syracuse, and Rachel stayed with me that first night and the last night.  First order of business the following day was to start unpacking and get her bed ready so she could stay at "her house" the second night!  As we unpacked we started making lists of what we needed to buy and then the shopping began.  Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, Walmart, TJ Maxx, Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, Walmart, TJ Maxx, Wegmans...  you get the idea : )  We spent a couple of days getting her room settled, meeting her roommate when she arrived, and then we set out to have some fun.  We did some exploring around Syracuse, ate at the infamous Dinosaur Barbecue (delicious, by the way), found some parks, the mall, pumpkin spice lattes and ended with some time by Lake Onondaga under a willow tree, Rachel's favorite, savoring our final hours together.  Was I really ready to leave my baby girl 1300 miles from home, and was my baby girl ready to really be on her own, that far from home???  Rachel spent that last night with me at the hotel - after all, she had to be up to drive me to the airport around 4:30 a.m.!!  I prayed with her and tried my best to hold in the tears and I did pretty well until I was checked in for my flight and headed to the gate ; )  It is unbelievable how those emotions are welling up inside as I write this six months later. 

Six months have passed since I left Rachel in Syracuse.  Wow, how proud I am of my "baby" girl! She is so grown up!!!!  She has done phenomenal since she moved.  She has grown up so much and has handled the new responsibilities so well.  She spends 5 to 6 hours a day at the ballet studio, does homework, performs with LWB, works a part-time job as a hostess at  Ruby Tuesday, has found a church home, takes care of her car, grocery shopping, cooking, laundry, and house responsibilities. She has learned how to live in a house with 6 other girls!!  Her daddy and I couldn't be any happier for her.  

Rachel had a 4 week Christmas break and we loved having her home!  Her spring break is coming soon and I am going to Syracuse to spend the week with her; I am beyond excited. She has sent me a packing list (which includes my passport among other things - hmm) and an itinerary of places we should visit. I can't wait to be back in beautiful Central New York!

Light of the World Ballet is a small Christian Ballet that has an academy, professional company, and trainee company.  They minister through dance in a variety of venues regionally and internationally.  I am so glad the Lord led Rachel to LWB!  Knowing that she is where the Lord wants her to be is the only way I have managed to have peace with my girlie so far away.  If you want to learn more about Light of the World Ballet, check out their website or blog.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Life Changes

Wow!  16 months without a blog post.  Life has been busy and full of change in our home.  Since my last blog post, we have completed our journey of home education with the graduation of our youngest, Rachel, in April 2012.  Her senior year was busy with schooling, ballet, college visits and auditions.  We traveled to colleges and ballet programs across the country trying to find the new direction for her life.  Those travels were fun times together with some definite adventures to go along with them!  I think the craziest weekend was a trip to Jackson, MS where she finished her audition at 6:00 on Friday evening, we got in the car and drove as far as Longview, TX to stop for the night.  The next morning found us back on the road early in the morning headed for a 2:00 audition in Norman, OK.  We made lots of good memories in our travels!  Rachel has ultimately ended up in Syracuse, NY dancing as a trainee with Light of the World Ballet.  It has been a great fit for her and I will likely try to give that story it's own post soon.  

Allan gave OTR trucking a try, but decided that was not the best career for him.  He traveled to all corners of the country while he was trucking!  He is now working at a local Hampton Inn as a desk clerk and likes the work and contact with many different people.  He is still living at home, but is not home much, lol!!  I love spending time with my son - he is such a joy to be around!  I will miss him when he is on his own.

Work keeps Robert busy as always.  He is still volunteering as a Boy Scout leader, but has moved on to help a smaller troop grow.  He loves the interaction with the other dads and being a positive influence in the lives of boys, as well as all the camping and hiking!

The end of our homeschooling and Rachel moving to Syracuse has meant big changes for me!  I am adjusting fairly well and try not to dwell on my sweet girl being so far away.  Life has definitely slowed down as we stepped down from serving on our home school association board of directors after 8 years and I also stepped down from serving on the board of the ballet.  It is very quiet at home now, but I am learning to embrace the quietness and slower pace.  I will likely go to work at some point, but for now, I am taking care of my health.  In my last post, I talked about the BRCA 1 genetic mutation I have for breast cancer.  I had a bilateral mastectomy in October and am still healing from the surgery and post-surgery pleurisy.  I finally started driving this past week and have gotten out several times.  It feels good to be back out a bit, but I am still very weak and have to be careful about not overdoing.  I find myself napping a lot!!  Reconstruction will be an ongoing process through the winter.  I will go back to Dallas this week for follow ups with both of my surgeons there.  I will get a quick visit with my mom, brother and family, and a lunch with a long-time friend who lives in Frisco.  I am so thankful for my guys who have taken great care of me during my recovery - taking care of things around the house that I can't do (and we know that drives a mom crazy), cooking, cleaning, laundry....  It is great to now be able to do much of that myself again!!  

Now that I have figured out how to blog again, I hope to be back soon with a post about Syracuse and who knows what else!  

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

FIVE Years!!

Today is July 5, 2011…just another day to most people, but not to me. Today marks 5 years survival from a breast cancer diagnosis!! July 5 will forever be etched in my mind as the anniversary of the day I heard the four words that forever changed my life: “you have breast cancer”.

July 5, 2006, I was 40 years old, living and loving life with my husband and two children who were 16 and 12 at the time. I was in the midst of packing for a trip to North Carolina with my kids and older sister to visit my younger sister and her family. I’d had an ultrasound guided core needle biopsy a week prior after my first routine mammogram, and a follow up ultrasound both showed an area of concern. Having had two benign tumors in my mid- and late-20’s I wasn’t overly concerned. At every test the doctors had been reassuring that they felt it was just a fluid-filled cyst – nothing to worry about. When my phone rang that morning, I knew it would be the surgeon’s office with the results. What I didn’t know was that they were about to tell me I had cancer. I remember being stunned as I listened and tried to write down what the doctor (my doc was on vacation so it was one of the others in the practice) was telling me and trying to keep my composure. He made it sound like it probably wasn’t too bad and that I needed to follow up with my doctor when I got back into town after vacation. I mean, how could I have cancer? I didn’t have a family history of cancer; I was *only* 40 years old; there was no palpable lump; and this was my first routine mammogram – surely I didn’t have cancer. The first call I made was to Robert and I could barely utter the words. I don’t remember the conversation other than hearing him telling me I would be okay. When I told my family, I think I went into survival mode and was very matter-of-fact, trying not to fall apart. I promptly left town the next day as planned and stayed gone for almost 2 weeks (having a great time with my sisters was probably the best thing I could have done at the time!). I called the surgeon when I returned and heard “where have you been”? I should have known then that this would not be an easy, simple road to travel.

I had a lumpectomy and sentinel node biopsy in early August and received the official diagnosis and staging: invasive ductal carcinoma, stage IIB, with 2/10 lymph nodes testing positive for cancer as well. The referral to an oncologist came next and I *really* lost it when I found I would have to have chemotherapy, radiation, and hormonal treatment in addition to the surgery I’d had. Chemotherapy meant losing my hair and we all know how important hair is, right?? In addition to losing my hair, you have to understand I have had a life-long needle and throw-up phobia and chemotherapy definitely involves needles and when you read the side-effects of those drugs, well, it sounds like throw-up will be involved too!! However, God is good and faithful – I managed to reign in the needle fear (I didn’t say I got over it!!) and I never threw up!!

Three days after my 41st birthday, I started 27 weeks of weekly chemotherapy. I participated in a clinical trial and received adriamyacin and cytoxan every Friday for 15 weeks, followed by taxol every Friday for 12 weeks. During the first 15 weeks of treatment I also was to get a neupogen shot every day. Remember how I mentioned my fear of needles? Well, when you find out you have to give yourself an injection every day for 15 weeks, you begin to get over that fear just a bit!! At first, we thought Robert would be able to give me the injections, then we found out that they had to be done at a certain time every day and that it would be impossible for him to do. I did lots of praying at 10:00 every morning!! I finished chemo on April 6, 2007 and began taking radiation treatments five days a week for 7 weeks. By the time radiation was finished I had very short hair (and I do mean short) and it was getting hot so I decided to do away with the wig. What freedom!! In early May 2007 I started taking the anti-estrogen drug tamoxifen. One of the somewhat unexpected side effects of chemotherapy has been early menopause; therefore, I was switched from tamoxifen to anastrozole in 2010. Tamoxifen and anastrozole caused a lot of joint and bone pain that were heavily interfering with daily life so I recently switched to femara. Thankfully, the side effects are not as severe with this drug. I will have to take this drug for the next 5 to 10 years. In February 2008, I also had to have another excisional biopsy which happily was not cancer – just a lymph node that showed up in the wrong place. After you are diagnosed with cancer, you spend a lot of time in doctor’s offices. I was so happy when I was finally able to move to seeing my oncologist every 6 months and my surgeon yearly!! Every little step you take moves you that much closer to feeling “normal” again. I’ve hoped to keep making progress forward to the point that cancer is just a distant memory, but I am learning that is a hard place to get to. I have come a long way in 5 years, but I still have a way to go.

My mom recently finished treatment for ovarian cancer – Yay! for finishing treatment and being on the road to recovery for her!!

After my mom’s diagnosis, my doctors wanted me to have genetic testing for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genetic mutations. It was a hard decision to make – I was almost 5 years out from my own diagnosis and that is a huge milestone in the life of a cancer survivor. To be tested meant being thrown back in “cancer land”, while not testing would mean having to go through heavy surveillance, possibly unnecessarily. In the end, I decided to have the test and this spring found out that I am BRCA1 positive. This was not the news I wanted to hear…AT…ALL. Hereditary cancer is really not that common – it’s pretty rare actually. However, it means my odds of having a recurrence or a new breast cancer or ovarian cancer are much higher than is normal. With the BRCA1 mutation, all three of my doctors – oncologist, surgeon and gyn are heavily recommending I have a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy and hysterectomy. They tell me it is really not a case of “if” breast cancer will return, but “when”. I have always said that if I had cancer again, I would have a mastectomy, but to have to make that decision when I do not have cancer is tough. I am currently researching surgeons to have a consultation/second opinion with. If I opt to not have the surgery, it means more scans and surveillance than usual and I am not sure I can do that. Every time you return to the doctor after cancer treatment, there is a certain amount of anxiety that comes with it. Every mammogram, every blood test, every ultrasound, every exam causes anxiety for days leading up to and in the days waiting for results. I am so fortunate that I have friends and acquaintances locally and across the nation that I can turn to for support and advice when needed. I have turned to a number of them in the past couple of months. Those friends and acquaintances are one of the positive things to come from having had breast cancer. As I mark this fifth anniversary of survival, I am happy to be here celebrating this significant milestone and refuse to let what lies ahead darken the coming days. I choose to celebrate and live life…every day!!

I would be remiss if I didn’t give some testimony of God’s goodness through the past five years. As I look back through a journal I kept and scriptures I wrote in the back of my church notebook during the past five years I am reminded of how He has had his hand on my life. In the few months leading up to my diagnosis, I began to let go of some of the responsibilities I had held in our homeschool support group (I had been serving as co-op administrator) and working in children’s ministry at church. As a homeschool mom, I believed I needed to be more available to our son as he was finishing his high school work over the next two years and preparing for college. Little did I know how important those decisions would be in the coming months. After I was diagnosed one of the questions I faced was “what about school”? I prayed and these scriptures were an answer:

I Thessalonians 5:24 “The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.”

2 Corinthians 12:9 “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

We continued on with school, relying on God every step of the way. My kids were awesome – on days I could barely get out of bed, they got busy and did their schoolwork with little help or they curled up on the couch with me for help. They learned a lot about housework that year as well☺. The following year was hard too, but we persevered leaning on this scripture:

6:9Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

Allan was a senior and through perseverance we saw him earn his Eagle Scout award, successfully take college algebra as concurrent enrollment, graduate from high school and he was awarded a scholarship for college!!

We had many friends and family who provided meals, cards, playdates, and sleepovers – we were blessed! Those meals, cards and sleepovers always came at just the right time – God’s time. We were blessed by Robert’s job in that he was able to take me to chemo *every* week except one that he had to be out of town – 27 days or ½ days off is a lot!!

Today and on the days I am not sure what to do or what lies ahead, I try to remember this scripture: Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”

I share my story in hopes that it will bless or encourage someone with God’s faithfulness. There is no doubt in my mind that God has his hand on my life and that He walks with me every step of the way, never leaving me, and carrying me when I cannot walk alone. I don’t have all the answers and I don’t always understand, I just have to trust and believe.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Simple Woman's Daybook

For Today...November 4, 2010

Outside my window...beautiful sunny, blue skies and a pretty good west wind blowing across the lake.

I am thinking...about the growing number of phone calls I need to make today (because they have been put off much too long) and the fact that due to terrible cell reception at my house, I should really drive to town and sit in my car to make the calls. I won't go into how much I can't wait for May so I can finally be free of this cell phone contract and go back to being able to talk on the phone *in* my house. I wish it wouldn't cost $$$$ to get out of a cell contract!!!!

I am thankful for...health insurance. We have been blessed with excellent coverage for years. This was so evident when I was in treatment for breast cancer several years ago. Yes, there are things I have had to fight for coverage for and it hasn't always been easy to deal with. However, I know many who have suffered devastating financial problems due to medical expenses after a serious illness. This week we have to sign up for our benefits for the coming year and although there are changes to our plan I'm not crazy about, I am thankful for the coverage and thankful that the premium isn't going up. I'll have more expense out of my own pocket in the form of a deductible we haven't had previously, but I know the Lord will take care of us.

From the learning room... we began a Music Appreciation course this week. Rachel is loving it! I watched her listening to the CD Monday and I knew exactly what was going on in her mind - she was choreographing ballet to the music!! It was pretty funny when she told me that's what she was doing because I could already tell : ) We are also starting a new writing program this week and I am actually excited about it. Wow, did I just say that?? We are starting Jensen's Format Writing and praying for good results.

From the kitchen...Today I will be making Taco Soup to take to Mom's Renew tonight. My family will be having leftovers ; ) They don't mind and there is a choice - Dirty Rice, Crockpot Mexican chicken and rice or sandwiches. Love that I have an easy to please family!!

I am wearing...jeans and a black turtleneck. So glad to be able to start wearing some fall clothes now that the weather is cooler.

I am creating...lesson plans and Christmas lists.

I am going...to our homeschool group's Mom's Renew tonight. Tonight is a Souper Renew - soup, bread, and dessert and Detra Thomas will be sharing a light-hearted message with us followed by a sweet time of fellowship.

I am reading...A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. It's the story of Bill Bryson hiking the Appalachian Trail. Parts of it are quite funny and some of it I'm not crazy about because I think he's an evolutionist so I skip over it because it gets boring and I don't agree with him ; ) Mostly, I love the tales he tells of his hikes! He adds in some of the history of AT as well as the National Forest Service. I'll give you a warning if you might be inclined to read it - it has some foul/crude language in it.

I am hoping...to find the perfect pair of shoes for the Western Arkansas Ballet Silver Anniversary Gala. I found the outfit yesterday, but no shoes. I tried raiding Rachel's closet but that didn't work out too well - her foot is bigger than mine : ( I have a couple of other places to shop this afternoon.

I am hearing...Pencil eraser and the gas heater. It's pretty quiet in the school room : )

Around the house...let's skip this one and hope no one knocks on my door for a few more days!! Let's just say I can't wait for Saturday to get here so I can get some major cleaning done. The dust bunnies are taking over.

One of my favorite things...parent observation month at ballet! I observed Rachel's Advanced Pointe class on Monday. She even asked me to videotape some of the center work. Love the opportunity to sit in on her classes and see progression from one year to the next.

A few plans for the rest of the week...Saturday night I'll be attending the Silver Anniversary Gala for Western Arkansas Ballet. We've spent untold hours with this organization for the past 10 years and look forward to celebrating this milestone with them!

Here is a picture thought I am sharing...
Wishing I was back here. Spent a week in this house @ Estes Park, CO in August with all my siblings and most of their kids. One of the greatest vacations ever...

To read more Daybook entries, visit Peggy at The Simple Woman's Daybook.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Summer Fun - July 2010

Robert and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary on February 22, 2010! We wanted to take a trip but we knew it would have to be later in the year since Robert's job as outage coordinator keeps him working long hours and unable to take vacation pretty much from Feb. - May. Then, Rachel got accepted to a 4 week ballet intensive in MI and we decided to let her go, knowing we might not be able to have quite the trip we were hoping for. Robert was pretty surprised that I would sacrifice the trip, knowing how much I'd wanted it but, I really wanted Rachel to have the opportunity to attend this particular intensive. So, we decided that we would send Rachel to MI and hopefully be able to enjoy a short trip to pick her up at the end of her camp. The Lord blessed us unexpectedly this spring so we were able to plan a trip after all!! We decided that we would fly Rachel to MI and then we would drive up at the end of her camp to see her performances and bring her home, stopping in Chicago for a few days on the way north. The highlights of the trip follow.

Monday, July 12, 2010

We left Fort Smith about 10:00 a.m., stopping in Springfield, MO for a late lunch. We considered spending the night in St. Louis but decided to go ahead and get most of the drive to Chicago out of the way on day 1. We stopped for the night in Ratoul, IL. Our drive was great. I've never seen so many cornfields in my life!! There were some beautiful farms along the way. I have traveled through quite a few states in my life but I had never been through Indiana and Illinois.

Illinois Cornfield

Tuesday, July 13
We arrived in Chicago about 11:00 a.m. First stop was the Museum of Science and Industry and Lake Michigan. We parked at the museum and walked under Lakeshore Drive to see Lake Michigan - wow! It's so pretty and felt like we were at the beach : ) We walked back to the museum and spent a few hours exploring the exhibits. Very cool place - we could have spent a few more hours there. We'll keep it on our list of places to visit next time. We drove further north on Lakeshore and got checked in at our hotel, The Ambassador East, in the Gold Coast area. The hotel is on a quiet, mostly residential street about 2 blocks from Lake Michigan. We could see a bit of the lake from our room. We got settled in and then started the first of many miles of walking we did in the city! We stopped at the Water Tower Visitor Center and bought 3 day CTA passes that are for the buses and El. We had great Chicago pizza at Giordano's, thanks to the recommendation of several friends. The hotel porter asked if we were going to have pizza while in town and when we told him Giordano's on the recommendation of friends, he said we have good friends!! Thanks LeAnn and Janine! After dinner, we took the bus to Navy Pier and enjoyed a few hours there. We then walked down Michigan Avenue and back to our hotel.

Lake Michigan
Navy Pier

Wednesday, July 14
The first adventure today was taking the bus to the Farmer's Market at Lincoln Park. WOW! What an awesome farmer's market! We enjoyed strolling through the booths and seeing all the great produce and baked goods. We bought some raspberries and enjoyed while listening to some music. We walked a bit through Lincoln Park and then took a bus back to State Street. We had an awesome lunch at P.J. Clarke's. Spent the afternoon exploring more of the city by bus, the El and walking, of course - shopping at Macy's, texting pics of Joffrey Ballet studios to Rachel (love ya girlie!!), exploring Millennium Park and taking pics at Cloud Gate. After returning to the hotel we had a quick dinner and then headed for Burnham Harbor. We took a three hour sunset/Navy Pier fireworks sail on the tall ship Red Witch. It had been a hot day but on the water it was nice and cool. A very fun evening! As if we hadn't experienced enough of the transportation options of the city, we hailed a taxi for a ride back to the hotel.
Joffrey Ballet
Cloud Gate @ Millennium Park
Helping raise the sails

Thursday, July 15
We started the day with a late breakfast at Lou Mitchell's. Located at the beginning of the old Route 66, this place was like walking back in time. The food was oh, so good! Can you say fresh squeezed orange juice, double yolk egg omelettes, and fried potatoes? Robert says this was probably the most expensive breakfast we have had but it was so good and there's nothing like going to a good old-fashioned diner every now and then. We took a peek in Union Station and walked along the Chicago River for a bit before taking a water taxi to Navy Pier. We considered taking an architectural river cruise but decided to just take the water taxi instead. In the end we were glad we opted for the shorter water taxi to the pier as it was pretty hot on the river and the architectural cruise was 90 minutes in the sun. In the past two days we had done so much walking that by this time, I had shin splints and was exhausted!! We decided to spend the afternoon visiting "Sue" at the Field Museum of Natural History. This was a museum that we could definitely pass up on our next visit to Chicago. It was a good escape from the heat of the afternoon but we didn't enjoy it near as much as we enjoyed the Museum of Science and Industry. We spent an adventurous hour trying to get back to the Magnificent Mile by bus as rush hour was starting. I'm still not sure how they got that many people on that bus!!!! At one stop we finally decided we could probably manage to get off the bus so we did. We caught the next one and it was nearly empty : ) We enjoyed a really nice seafood dinner at Hugo's Frog Bar & Fish house, followed by a little people watching in the park across from Tavern on Rush. It was fun watching the valet's parking all the $$$$$ cars and then watching them try to open a car they had locked the keys in : ) We made our way out to the shores of Lake Michigan and enjoyed spending some time at the water on our last night.
View from the water taxi
Another view of the river


Friday, July 16
Today we said goodbye to Chicago and headed for Flint, MI. We got a call from Rachel while we were stopped for lunch and she said if we made it to Flint before 5:00 to call her as she had a three hour break between rehearsals. We made it to Flint about 4:30 and stopped by the Whiting for a quick hello and of course, a great hug! It was so good to see our girlie, even for just a moment. A month is a long time, you know!! We checked into our hotel in Flint and then drove about 20 miles north to Frankenmuth, MI to visit Bronner's Christmas World. I ordered some Nutcracker ornaments from Bronner's last year and somehow remembered it was close to Flint. It's the largest Christmas store in the world so, of course we had to shop a little! After we had had enough of Christmas in July we drove to the Bavarian Inn Restaurant to try a little German food. Let me re-phrase that - it was A LOT of German food!! Neither of us had ever had German food but we really liked it. It was fun to try something new. I'd love to go back to Frankenmuth for a visit if we are ever in the area again. It was a really neat little town.

Saturday, July 17
Today is the day - We get to see Rachel's end of camp performances! We spent a lazy morning at the hotel then walked across the street to visit Flint's Farmer's Market. They have an awesome market - part of it is in a permanent building and is open year-round with fresh meat, chicken, cheese, wine, and produce. During the spring, summer, and early fall there are booths outside selling produce, flowers and homemade salsas, etc. After visiting farmer's market's in Flint and Chicago, I think I'll have to try the Fort Smith market soon. We met Bob and LeAnn (their daughter was in Flint as well) for lunch and then we went to the matinee performance of the Magnus Midwest Dance Intensive at The Whiting. Rachel's level danced their ballet piece in the matinee performance and all levels were cast in the finale. After the matinee we went out for a light dinner with Bob and LeAnn. We had fun with our waiter who liked to hear our southern accents! The evening performance was great and we loved seeing Rachel perform her jazz piece. Fun to watch our mostly classical ballet dancer in a jazz piece with a blonde, bobbed wig as part of her costume!! The evening performance was followed by a nice reception and we finally got to see our girlie again - all dressed up. She spent her last night back at the dorm with her friends, enjoying those last few bittersweet hours before the girls would all say goodbye and head back to their home studios.

Post performance family pic

Sunday, July 18
We moved Rachel out of the dorm and were on the road by about 10:15 a.m. We stopped for lunch in Lansing, MI, dinner in Effingham, IL and made a stop at the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, MO before stopping for the night on the west side of St. Louis. Enjoyed hearing Rachel's stories from her month in MI along the way.
Flooded Mississippi River @ St. Louis
Gateway Arch

Monday, July 19
We were on the road by 8:45 a.m., made a lunch stop in Joplin, MO and were home around 4:30 p.m. It was a great trip and it's good to be back home with everyone back under one roof. Now the unpacking and laundry begin ; )

Thank you, Lord, for blessing us - first, with 25 years of marriage and secondly, with a fun trip to celebrate.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Simple Woman's Daybook

For today...March 29, 2010

Outside my window...another late night daybook entry means it's dark outside

I am thinking...about how much I would love to finally get around to some long overdue blog posts. I love the daybook because it's pretty easy but I really want to sit and blog some other thoughts.

I am thankful for...God's word - ever so timely! Pastor Marty preached on Lordship yesterday and the message really helped me determine some priorities today, including getting back to having a daily quiet time in the MORNING. Last night an unpopular clothing decision had been made involving the girlie in our house and she wasn't very happy about it even though she knew the reasons behind the decision. This morning after I had read my devotional and some scriptures, I picked up The Power of a Praying Parent by Stormie Omartian (it's been untouched for months) and flipped to a page to read. The title, you ask? "Staying Attracted to Holiness and Purity". Hmm, coincidence? I don't think so!! Here's a portion of the prayer included with this chapter: "You have said, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God" Matthew 5:8. May a desire for holiness that comes from a pure heart be reflected in all that she does. Let it be manifested in her appearance as well. I pray that the clothes she wears and the way she styles her hair and chooses to adorn her body and face will reflect a reverence and a desire to glorify you, Lord." At lunch I was able to share this with my daughter and let her know that I believed this was confirmation that the correct decision had been made. Later this afternoon, we went shopping together and were able to find clothing that she liked and that also met with the approval of the parents. She admitted as we left the store today that she was just mad last night because she couldn't get the "cute" stuff online but what she had found today was much to her liking. Cute and appropriate - thank you, Lord for showing us the way!!

From the learning room...trying to regroup after spring break and get as much work done as possible before ballet festival mid-week, next week.

From the kitchen...
Monday...Fajitas and refried beans
Tuesday...Turkey Club Pizza and salad
Wednesday...Red Beans and Rice (from scratch, not a box mix, just for Robert!)
Thursday...Italian Chicken and Pasta Toss, salad, french bread
Friday...not sure yet
(maybe I'll blog some of these recipes this week)

I am wearing...the usual - jeans and a shirt

I am creating...a plan for planting! I bought basil, parsley, and cilantro seeds to start this week. I already have mint that has come up from last year. I want to get flowers in my bed but the weather man says not to plant the flowers before April 10, the average date for a last hard freeze here.

I am going...to Mom's RENEW tomorrow night. This is a gathering of Mom's from my homeschool support group. We'll be discussing high school transcripts and enjoying sweet fellowship with one another.

I am reading...Return from Tomorrow by George G. Ritchie with Elizabeth Sherrill.

I am hoping...for a date night soon : ) Those are especially rare during "shutdown" but a girl can hope! We were given a gift card for our 25th anniversary and we haven't used it yet so who knows, maybe this long weekend will give us the opportunity.

I am hearing...noticing the neighbor's dog finally quit barking. I can only imagine how annoyed some of our neighbors must have been when we had a dog who would sometimes bark endlessly when there was a possum or some other critter outside at night.

Around the house...it's a mess! There's no other way to put it : ) Rachel and I started cleaning out closets last week when we got home from visiting family. The closets look great but the "stuff" that we are getting rid of is still in various places in my house. Gotta get it outta here!!!

One of my favorite things...sweet surprises from sweet friends. For example, Rachel turned 16 last week and some friends got together a surprise lunch for her at one of her favorite restaurants! She was truly surprised. I wish I'd had a picture of her when the realization of what was going on hit her : )

A few plans for the rest of the week...Mom's RENEW, Rachel's getting a haircut tomorrow, returning library books, and preparing for celebrating our risen Savior!!

Here is a picture thought I am sharing...

Happy Birthday Rach!

To read more daybook entries, visit Peggy at The Simple Woman's Daybook.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Simple Woman's Daybook

For Today...March 16, 2010

Outside my window...night has come after a beautiful spring day with lots of sunshine

I am thinking...about planting flowers in my flower beds. I'm sure I'll be really inspired after I visit my sister this weekend and see what she's been planting!

I am thankful for...the trip I took to Oregon two weeks ago. My grandma went home to be with her Lord and Savior and I was able to fly back for her funeral which was really a "celebration of her life". She was blessed with a long life - 93 years! I have so many great memories of visits with her and my grandpa. There are nine grandchildren on this side of my family and we were all able to be at the service. It was the first time since 1977 that all nine cousins were together in the same place at the same time!!

From the learning rooms...trying to get some work done before we take our spring break. Geometry...proofs...need..I..say..more??

From the kitchen...yummy lasagna from the freezer. Gotta love freezer meals : )

I am wearing...jeans and a new super soft sweater
I am creating...a packing list, an errand list, and a to-do list

I am going...to visit my mom, sister, and in-laws later this week : )

I am reading...just finished Karen Kingsbury's Even Now and Ever After. Need to finish What the Bible Says About Healthy Living by Rex Russell, M.D. and Eat Right for Your Type by Dr. Peter J. D'Adamo
I am hoping...I get lots accomplished tomorrow despite a couple of appointments that will interrupt our day.

I am hearing...Rachel's ankle's pop as she walks down the hall! That girl pops and cracks like crazy. Must be a ballet thing - the girls at the studio do it all the time too!!

Around the house...preparation for my trip to La. later this week. Trying to think about decluttering and spring cleaning *soon*

One of my favorite things... long phone calls to catch up with a lifelong friend...then knowing we might actually get a rare "in person" visit in a few days!

A few plans for the rest of the week...couple of appointments tomorrow for Rachel; prep for my *baby's* sweet sixteen birthday next week!

Here is a picture thought I am sharing..
Nancy, Carolyn, Jody
3 Cousins at the Oregon Coast

To read more Daybook Entries, visit Peggy at The Simple Woman's Daybook.