Maria and the kids swung by TX for a week-long visit before heading to AZ. It was wonderful to show them around and spend time with them!
Day 1: Houston Museum of Natural Science - embarking on our 1st day out and totaling 3-1/2 miles of walking, was this beautiful museum with a butterfly exhibit. It was a fun-filled day with LOTS of learning!
Day 2: Space Center Houston - Since Mark used to work here, he was thrilled to show everything to the kiddos. It was another fun-filled day with 3 miles of walking. The highlights were the Apollo 5 Rocket and seeing the astronaut training facility.
Day 3: Galveston Beach - Us 3-generations of ladies went to spend the day in Galveston.. Canal tour, beaching, and swimming. It was a hot but pretty awesome day! The highlight of this trip was seeing the dolphins in the canal!
Day 4: Houston Zoo - Another 3-generation lady trip, it was a very hot day, but we enjoyed seeing all the animals at this beautiful zoo! The highlights? Bree being in such a silly mood! :-)
Papa Mark was excited to show the kiddos his lab, and may as well get a home-school science lesson in while he's at it! The highlights, especially for the kids was the demonstration of lightning from the Tesla coil.
Day 5: Houston Downtown Aquarium - This was a very small but nice aquarium with a few rides for the young kids. Highlight of this trip with the Shark Tunnel!
Day 6: Kemah Boardwalk - halfway back toward Galveston, this boardwalk is a small amusement park on the water. Three of the larger rides were down that day, and I'm sure the highlight would have been the wooden roller coaster. However, since we didn't experience that, the highlight of our trip was the spiral ride to view the area. It was air conditioned on this 106 degree day! :-)
This moment is bitter-sweet, as the summer has been WAY too short, and we will definitely miss our kids & grandkids. However, we are also excited about some new adventures this year and Mark is ready to get back to the school he loves.
Traveling always posts some challenges, so we prepare the best we can. Having all the vehicles in top mechanical order is always Marks' top priority. In the meantime, we do have a TPMS system for the tires, leak detecters, temperature alerts and propane & fridge monitors.
We also prepare the vehicle for comfortable travel for the pets, fill up with gas, and double-check any reservations.
Pica has always done well just laying wherever she wants in the truck, and knows her water and blanket are nearby.
Naomi is different. She's still new to us and travel life, so we're getting used to her needs and she's getting used to our schedule. She likes to roam around and softly talk to us, but she is always tethered (just in case of emergency). The night before our travel day, I make sure her littler box is cleaned before I go to bed. Since she likes using a clean litter box, this means she potties during the night and won't need to do anything during travel. So far that's held true. :-)
Rest areas are for all of us. We run the bedroom AC on a higher temp during travel so it's kind of cool when we stop.. Napping is something everyone likes to do on long days, and we all have a place on or near the bed.
Most days on our way to TX are 200-250 mile days, but there will be one long 350 mile day that's more stressful. On those days, we have a few more stops to walk & stretch. We also read a book or sing to pass the time, or play word games to keep us awake.
Pictures below, Naomi has found a nice cozy little spot in Pica's bike basket. She loves the sun on her. Later, Naomi found that her crate doubles as a hammock, and Pica is just as happy to have her basket back. :-)
The last week we had with our kids, we helped Joe fix his car, we dodged a REALLY bad hail storm while in Davison, and visited Port Huron for some gaming fun (mostly for the kids)..
And a few fun pics of the pets just to be cute. :-)
On July 12th, Mark's mom passed into God's arms.. We were very honored to help care for her during her last months and days. Our family held a private service to celebrate her wonderful life. Were are of course very sad she is not with us, but are also thankful she is not in pain anymore. We love you so much mom!!
It was a quick but very fun 3 weeks with the kids. The 2nd weekend of fireworks was a hit, the kids staying in the tent with us was a big hit, and even a special visit from Stephen and Michelle was really awesome!
Near the end of our trip, we wanted to take the kids to the DOW Gardens Tree Walk. They have never been there before, and even though a bit hit, it was a beautiful day all together! If you haven't been to the Tree Walk, visit DOW Gardens in Midland.. You'll LOVE it!
June went by WAY too fast! We got to see Katie's kids, took care of the folks for 2 weeks, met the kids at our home campground to celebrate 4th of July, and even took a trip back to the old farm I used to work at!
Arriving at Katie's house, we got to meet Naomi for the first time! She is gorgeous! And so is our new little 15th grandchild Nadia! Even Atalia is thrilled about seeing us.. :-)
Pica and Naomi are traveling well together.. In time, I hope they will sleep next to each other to help make the trip go faster. :-)
Arriving at one of our favorite resorts, Arrowhead Lakes in Ohio, we saw first hand what the tornado left. It will take them a while to rebuild, but we are SO glad everyone is safe!
At mom & dad's house, some of our kids came for a quick visit, and we were able to take care of mom for a while. It was great seeing her at the table to eat with us!
Week 2 with Naomi, it was her first trip outside near the campfire. She absolutely loved it for a while.. Then a pic of both Naomi and Pica.. Laying together after just two weeks? I think that's pretty great!
Then, a total of 3 weeks at the campground, 2 weeks with our daughter Maria next to us in her 5th wheel, and 1 week with our son Joe & Ashley staying with us. It was an awesome time for everyone!
We even took a trip back to the farm to visit with ole friends that were family too. It was great seeing them, but sad to see the old barn not being used anymore. Bigger and better equipment has been built! :-)
I didn't post a lot for April because it was a month we spent together without caring much about the outside world. We soaked ourselves into God's word, and the precious moments of the gift of each other. It was a low-key, GREAT month all together.
In the meantime, here are some highlights.
Deck: Some awesome friends sold us their deck, and we built it up a little to meet our own needs. We are at a park we really like, a site we absolutely love, and will be at this park for the duration of Mark working at the school. To make things a bit easier, a deck is a nice little addition. Other friends of ours will use it during our time away in MI each year. I must say, it's a nice change, especially when bringing home groceries. :-)
Seder: We were honored this month to be invited to a REAL Messianic Jewish Seder dinner. There were over 600 people in attendance, and it was pretty awesome to see the customs and how much they love the Lord. When Mark held Seders for our church years ago, it's great to see how close he was to the real thing. :-)
Passover: To celebrate our own Passover season, we had the candles lit each evening we did our devotions. This in itself was SO nice.. Having the candles around the Peace Lily just gave a special meaning do to the persecution going on around the world right now.
Grandbaby #15!: This was of course the biggest highlight of the month! Grandbaby #15 was born to complete a family of seven! She is healthy and everyone is happy and doing well. Welcome to the world Nadia!
Special Celebration: Mark was honored to be able to fly home to help celebrate his mom's 85th birthday! Much of the family were there, and it was awesome for him to catch up with family happenings. What an awesome time, Happy Birthday Mom!
MISC Favorites: This month has brought a Blessing of storms and beautiful scenery outside. Check out the sunsets and clouds! A few fun pics of Pica.. Waiting for papa to come home, waiting patiently for dinner time, and just chillin before bedtime. :-)
Last visit of the year, Katie met us at the campground for a day away with the kids. It was a fun day with everyone, but missing her husband. Thanks for meeting us at the campground! :-)
Sunday, the weekend warriors returned home, the kids are back in school, and the campground is SOOOOO quiet! :-)
Stay details: Charlestown State Park - Charlestown, IN
* Note: We usually stay at this campground because it's pretty close to Katie, and the sites are VERY large and grassy. This campground also has a lot of hiking trails and an island (old amusement park) you can explore, but we didn't do any of that this weekend. We just love it because the sites are huge and they allow tents!
It's a bittersweet ending to a wonderful summer, but now it's time to head south. We had a wonderful time with our kids, grandkids, family and friends, and we made a LOT of beautiful memories together.. We can hardly wait for our return next summer!
However, we have a commitment in Texas this winter, and must be on our post October 1st. So, we'll be seeing Katie and some cousins on the way down, heading through Branson and through Arkansas and seeing some sights.
Until next year our dear loved ones.. We love you all!
Texas... Here we come!
Stay Details: Arrowhead Lakes Resort - Lima, OH.
* Note: This is one of our favorite resorts, just because it usually means we're almost home! It's halfway between Katie and our parents, and they have a wonderful pool and beautiful putt putt course.
It's been about 5 years since we've attended a CMA Rally. We were finally able to return this year, and were able to kindle a LOT of old friendships that we've missed. These rallies are always filled with great speakers, great music, and fun events, and this was no different. Everything from testimonies, to baptisms, bike games, youth programs, venders, and of course a variety of great speakers. Catching up with ole friends and fellowshipping around campfires and potlucks was just the icing on the cake. Mark was asked to sing, and our interpreter Chris even returned too! It was almost like old times.
The video below shows the short version of Mark's song.