Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Mall of America and New Ministry Friends

We have been having a great time in Minnesota so far.  We drove in on Tuesday from Eau Claire, WI.  Since it was a short drive, and we didn’t have any plans until the Tuesday evening service, we stopped for a few hours at the Mall of America.  I’m not so much of a retail shopper anymore, so I wasn’t that greatly impressed.  It was four stories tall, and HUGE.  But many of the stores had multiple locations, so it wasn’t like there were that many unique stores.  I also didn’t have any money to spend, so that probably cut down on my first impression.  J

My kids, however, had a blast.  Not at first…when we were just walking around.  They kept eyeing the amusement park.  The seven acre amusement park inside the mall.  The Log Chute water ride was right next to the food court.  They were green eyed with envy.  Little did they know what was in store...
My grandparents had given us a little bit of “fun money” to use on the kids.  We discovered that in March the mall has “Toddler Tuesdays” and kids eat free in the food court with an adult meal, and they get half price entry to the amusement park.  So the kids got a five hour wrist band and could ride as many rides as they wanted to, with the exception of a couple.
They had a GREAT time after that!  The twins stayed in the strollers, ate some enormous lollipops, and fell asleep from all the excitement.  The “bigs” enjoyed the Ferris Wheel, the Log Chute (three times), and bumper cars and the giant swing.  The Log Chute was a water ride.  I didn’t do many amusement parks as a kid (I get motion sickness), but I remember that my dad never let us do the water rides.  This wasn’t a get-completely-soaked ride, and the kids absolutely loved it.  I got tricked into doing it twice back to back (because no one was in line, they let us ride a second time) but I survived!
Tuesday night’s service was at Legacy Baptist Church.  The pastor is actually a childhood friend.  More of my brother Kenny’s friend, but I knew the family well.  Jamen and Sarah Wikler are pastoring a new church plant in Buffalo, MN.  We had a blast staying with their family.  They have identical twin girls who are nearly 3.5 years old, as well as a 10 month old son.  Our kids got along pretty well…most of the time!  After the kids were tucked in, we enjoyed much adult conversation, encouragement, theological discussions, and edification.  It was truly a great visit that made a lasting impression.  Everything came back around to the Lord – Who He is, what He has done, how He is leading us, and what we are trusting Him to do.  It’s been a while since we had that kind of spiritual encouragement for an extended time!


This is what seven kids ages five and under looks like...
Charis, Benjamen, Alethea, Elaine, Liberty, Nolan, and Nehemiah

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Thankful Thursday

While we were in Oklahoma visiting my Grams and having a deputation meeting, we had time for a special activity.  I hadn't been through Muskogee since I was on my way to Virginia Beach, VA with Ben after our honeymoon.  We saw Grams and Gramps at a family reunion in June, 2010, and introduced them to Elaine.  My Gramps went home to be with the Lord in August, 2010, just after we moved to NYC.

Gramps was the first grandparent I have lost.  (I feel very thankful for this - that I have had so much time with all of my grandparents and that they are relatively healthy).  Though Grams had sent pictures of the gravestone, I wanted to see it in person.

I guessed it seemed appropriate that it was raining when we made our trip to the cemetery.  Grams changed out the flowers for Easter, and we got to explain to the kids that Gramps is in heaven.


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Wordless Wednesday

Random Happenings from our time with my parents in Denver

He calls her "Red"; she loves to cuddle with Grandpa

Holding "Rosie" the tarantula at the Butterfly Pavilion!

I was so proud of Nolan!  He usually isn't very brave, but it helped that Elaine went first!

We had lunch at Fogo de Chao, a Brazilian Steakhouse, with my grandparents, parents, and brother Wesley.  My grandparents are getting more obviously old, but we had a good time!  I ate so much that even being pregnant, it was my one and only meal that day.

Sadie was jealous of all the attention the kiddos stole from her...and her spot in the chair!

Storytime with Grandma

Nolan isn't stuck...just enjoying nice weather in the park!

She was asleep like this...for I don't know how long.  Ouch!

Haircuts at Grandpas barber.  Nehemiah did so good!  (He hates haircuts and the shower that always follows them)


Liberty was Grandma's office helper...and she helped herself to the permanent markers!

Visit with our good friend Shirley Long

Ice Cream Cones for dessert.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Can Your Grandpa Do This?

We had a really fun visit with my grandparents, Don & MaryLou Paul.  The kids were in rare {and maybe even perfect} form.  They talked, interacted, snuggled, and even used good manners.  We even had a good giggle after dinner when Elaine and Nolan discovered that “Old Grandpa” can take his eye out.
It was about 58 years ago that Grandpa lost his right eye.  He has had a glass eye ever since.  I’ve heard the stories of him placing his eye underneath a coffee cup to scare someone.  I’ve seen him take it out a few times in my growing up years.  But it’s pretty funny to watch your own kids learn that Great-Grandpa isn’t teasing – he really can take out his eye! 
I suppose the situation is made more unique by the fact that in 2010 my Grandma also lost her right eye.  She had gone through several cornea transplants which were not effective, and in the end they decided to remove the eye.  It was funny to hear my grandparents reminisce about how Grandpa’s eye only cost $90, but Grandma’s eye cost $5,000! 

Grandpa started teasing the kids and telling them he could take out his eye.  They assumed he was being like Ben and just pulling their leg.  So when he reached up and popped out his eye, Nolan had this incredulous look on his face! 
Out comes the eye
"No - he can't really do that!"
"He's really doing it!"
After the shock settled a little, Grandpa gave each of the kids the chance to touch his eye.  Elaine was bold and took it in her hand.  Grandma had to set the eye in front of Nolan on the table before he gingerly reached out a finger to touch it.  The whole thing was pretty funny!
So I wonder…can YOUR Grandpa do that?
I get asked all the time if twins run in my family.  Yes - and they come from these two white-haired folks in these pictures.  Grandma has younger twin brothers, and Grandpa is a twin!  He has a twin sister and younger twin siblings also.  I had a good time watching Nehemiah snuggle right in with both of my grandparents.  Two twin guys - just a couple of generations apart - enjoying some play time together.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Colorado National Monument

Last Sunday we were in Grand Junction, CO.  Though I was raised in the Denver suburbs, I don't think I have ever been on the other side of the mountains (the western slope) except when we went to Durango and Four Corners on a family vacation.  I don't remember noticing the beautiful mesas and colors in the mountains and rock formations.  I couldn't get over how lovely this area of Colorado is!  It helped that the weather was nice and mild and there was no snow on the ground!

When we pulled into the church the kids immediately spotted the playground.  They enjoyed playing outside for the first time in weeks.  It has either been snowing, freezing cold/windy, or we have been sick since leaving NYC on Jan. 31st.

On Monday we took a leisurely drive through Colorado National Monument before heading back to Denver.  It is the first National monument/park established in the state of Colorado.  Each bend of the road brought more breathtaking sights.  We were able to get out and hike a bit with the kids - even without coats at some points! They enjoyed the drive and the walk and collecting rocks!  (That's what City kids do, you know!)

This was the drive in...little did I know how much better it would get!

The first stop, and so we set the kids on a rock for a picture.  They were a smidge cold and more interested in exploration than smiling for Mom's picture.


We drove around many of these switchbacks (and I didn't get a decent picture of any of them!)
Cold Shivers Point

Several of the canyons reminded me of a miniature Grand Canyon.  The pastor told us that this area used to be one big lake.  When the "wall" broke and the water was released, it created the mesas, canyons, and ran down to cut the Grand Canyon (the Colorado River is in this area also).  I haven't done any research, but all of the park signs were evolutionistic propaganda, so I can't trust their theories!

The kids with dad on the edge of Cold Shivers Point
Nehemiah, Ben, Libs, Nolan, and Elaine
What a gorgeous day!
Ute Canyon - another miniature Grand Canyon!
 Monument Canyon

We stopped at Monument Canyon for a big hike.  The trail goes all the way down the ravine, and across the Naitonal Monument to the other side.  We only did a small portion of the trail, but the kids loeed it.  There was a small waterfall coursing down one large rock.  There was a rock "bridge" that we walked over on the trail.  There were flowers, rocks, and even a tree growing upside down out of the rocks.  The twins did great walking up and down the path.

Ben being silly with the kids!

In the side of the canyon wall.

Just one of many cliffs....

The tree growing out of the crevice.

In the distance you can see the large mesa - Grand Mesa.  It is the largest flat topped mountain in the world according to several sources.  On the far left side is Mount Garfield (pictured larger below).

Independence Monument

I guess we blocked the monument in this shot...