Saturday, July 28, 2012

It's the Little Things

We're on the road again {sigh -ish - I mean, I've been to the beach, but it turns out the rest of my family wanted to go too -imagine that! Ha!- so we are soaking up the Florida rays.}

But we had some great home time.  We are so blessed in so many little ways.

Like living in our awesome neighborhood.  With awesome neighbors who share their leftover 4th of July fireworks stash:

And celebrating another year of life with sweet friends:

Our young adult Bible Study is changing..... our apprentices are starting their own group.  So exciting, but we're going to miss seeing them every week!  One of our 'kids' just bought their first house, so we met at his house and had a little 'goodbye' party for those splitting off:
 I have loved every second of 'doing life' with these folks!

Football is in full swing and, as usual, ML has made friends with all the other little sisters:

And finally, we are ready for football season!
It's just around the corner.  I can't believe it, but it is!
Monday, July 23, 2012

Mr.Big Stuf - Who do you think you are?

So.  After a few short hours at home, I got on a bus (a very *late* bus) headed for Panama City Beach, Florida with 110 teenagers from my church.
I wasn't supposed to be on this trip, but I lead a small group of rising 9th grade girls.  My co-leader wasn't able to go at the last minute and we wanted one of us to be on this trip with the girls, so it was up to me!

It ended up being the longest trip to PCB ever.  First the buses were over an hour late.  Then our bus had problems and we had to get a new bus in Birmingham.  It was a trip.  In more ways than one!  But soon enough, we were at the beach!
Big Stuf is a week long camp:
We have morning and evening worship sessions:
They have fun stuff (like the Skit Guys and Family Feud style games, etc.)
Amazing Worship:
And great speakers.

And every afternoon, you have free time:

There was also beach worship and quiet time:

Dinner out w/ other chaperones:
Big Stuf does amazing mission work through the 410 project.  Here you can pay $15 to send a Bible to a child in Africa:
At our camp we gave over 1,000 Bibles.  I was so impressed because if every student in our group gave a Bible, it meant we represented 1/10 of the Bibles given!  Awesome!

Before we knew it, we were on our way home!
It was a great week filled with spiritual renewal!  Now we are all fired up to do Big Stuf!
Sunday, July 22, 2012

What's Round on the Ends and High in the Middle?

Well, after a short 5 nights at home, we headed back out on the road on Friday.  

 (Which also happened to be National Cow Appreciation Day - thus the pic with the Chick Fil A cow.  :-)  We love some Chick Fil A.  I know they've been surrounded by some controversy lately, but we're not much on boycotting a business because of their religious beliefs (if we were, I'd have to give up my favorite nail place where they surround their Buddah with offerings and there's no way I'm going without a pedicure - if you've seen my feet, you know why - Ha! :-) so we carry on with our Chick Fil A patronage.
 This trip, we were headed to my parent's home state of Ohio.  We were on our way to my cousin's Baby shower and to see my grandfather.  We stopped in Nashville for dinner at a place called Cozymel's.  It was fantastic.

By Louisville, we were all exhausted:

So after a good night's rest in Louisville, we headed on toward Columbus.  First up though was the Cincinnati skyline:

In Columbus we went to my cousin's baby shower held at the historic Worthington Inn.  It was an Alice in Wonderland themed shower, so the tea party theme fit perfectly!

This is ML and *my* first cousin.  Seems crazy, but my mom is the oldest of 6 and her youngest sister's daughters aren't much older than ML.

After the shower, it was time to head back down to Cincy to see my grandfather, but first I wanted to stop off to see my grandparent's old house.  This was the first time I had been to Columbus since my grandmother died.  I hadn't seen the house in 9 years.
 My grandfather moved out of the house within months of my grandmother's passing.  JR was less than a month old and I couldn't return to Columbus to help my grandfather move.  In some ways, it was a blessing.  Their house lived on in my mind exactly the way it was when my grandmother was alive.

I have always loved their house.  It always felt like home.  I remember the warmth of their asphalt driveway under my feet as a child:
 It was such a novelty to me.  In the south, all our driveways were concrete.

 Good Old 2930.  My grandfather built that split rail fence.  It went so well with my grandmother's Colonial style of decor.
 The new owner had left the house untouched for all these years, but is now adding a garage in the front.

After visiting, we headed down to Cincinnati to see my grandfather for dinner:
 And after a great dinner, we headed back to Louisville for the night.  We stayed near the Summit mall and we had a great breakfast at the Starbucks there the next morning:

After a quick stop by LP field on the way,

We were finally home - on Sunday - just in time for me to pack for Big Stuf!
Saturday, July 21, 2012

Back to Life

Well, after spending the week with 2,000 teens in Panama City Beach at Big Stuf, it's time to get back to life (and in my head I'm singing....'back to reality'...... which you will only get if you're as old as me - ha!)  I had an awesome, fun time at Big Stuf, but don't want to miss the opportunity to blog about the rest of our road trip, so we'll head back to Route 66 and southern Illinois.

We spent the night in Collinsville, Illinois at the Doubletree Inn.  It was a HUGE hotel (ballrooms, etc. size) and very nice.  Warm cookies on demand for every guest.  I'd highly recommend it.

The next morning we were on our way to St. Louis!  Crossing the Mighty Mississippi:
It was fun talking to our kids about the important role rivers, especially the Mississippi, had played in our country's history.  The day before at the Lincoln Museum we had seen a digital map that showed Federal vs. Confederate troop controlled land (as it changed throughout the war/ after different battles) and we pointed out to the kids how the Federal troops had immediately seized (and never let go of) control of the the Mississippi.

 Now it was time to talk about the Louisiana purchase and how the Mississippi River had once divided the United States of America from 'the rest' of the continent.

The St. Louis Arch sits on a beautiful national park:

There had been some kind of festival at the Arch the night before we arrived, so they were still cleaning up.

The museum is actually underground, under the arch, so we headed down.  The museum is free, but you do have to pay a small fee to go up into the arch in an elevator to the observation deck or to see one of the Imax movies.

It was a great time.  There were lots of interesting displays that taught kids about the Westward expansion of our country.

After the museum, we headed to the Rams stadium to take JR's picture.  He loves to see different professional stadiums.

And then we reluctantly left Route 66 and headed home!  It was a great trip, full of memories.  I'd do it again in a heartbeat!