I Have Been Blessed

All about how God has blessed me. In my marriage, with my six children, through homeschooling, and our faith with recipes, large family living, and updates on our life.

Another Vacation Post

My beautiful girls loved visiting family.

I can take so long posting about this vacation, it is like savoring the experience for as long as possible. Sorry, this is what happens when you have six kids and slow internet. Posts may be few and far between!

Austin teaching Tyler and Wyatt how to fish.

After we went Treasure Hunting in Bowling Green, we stayed overnight in Indianapolis, and then headed to Michigan. I don’t know if this will make any sense at all, but there is something about being in Michigan that pulls at my heart. Maybe because so much of my family is there. Maybe because it is where I was born. But there is part deep inside my heart that will ALWAYS think of Michigan as “home”. Just being in the state felt different to me somehow, knowing I was going to my Grandma and Grandpa’s house (it’s now my aunt’s and uncle’s as both my grandparents on that side have passed on). The family, the memories. I felt it all deep, deep in my heart.

It had been over TEN years since I had been at that house. Closer to fifteen or twenty since I had seen some of my cousins. I will admit to being a little nervous. But we were welcomed and loved and hugged and helped and it meant the world to us! While we were there we swam at the lake and just enjoyed spending time with family. We camped in our new tent and despite the HOT weather, and the people-biting fish, we really enjoyed ourselves. Even Cassidy got into a nice summertime schedule of eating, taking a cooling-off dip in the lake, and settle in for a nap.

Cassidy loved being at the Lake and even came home suntanned!

An Amish girl, younger than Brendyn, doing farm chores.

The Amish house we stayed at.

After seeing all our family, we headed towards Ohio, to spend the night with the Amish. I will just say this is an area where our expectations were no where close to reality. Let me preface what I am about to say, by first saying this … the Amish people were VERY nice and hospitable and kind. But their house was very modern. They had a gas run refrigerator, gas and battery-powered lights. Other than the fact that there was no a/c, and Miss Mary hand-cooked every aspect of our meal, you would never know it was an Amish house. The coolest part of the experience was seeing the landscape and seeing the Amish people in their buggies on the drive to and from. Seeing them in their farms working, or riding their bicycles on the side of the road. We really enjoyed seeing the Amish community.

After that, we went to North Carolina to Thermal City Gold Mine for some gold panning and Gem mining. This was the same gem mining set up, except dirt was sold by the bucket full and the size rocks we found were MUCH bigger. Austin and Brendyn and Tyler all tried their hands at gold panning, but sad to say, we didn’t strike it rich.

All the gems we found at Thermal City Gold Mine.

We bought two $30 buckets of dirt there and found remarkable stones. Still trying to figure out what to do with them. And still thinking a rock tumbler may be our best solution. Maybe we could even get a couple of pieces mounted into a necklace or something. I loved the faces on the kids when they would uncover something pretty. I saw every rock that came out of the dirt because they had to show me what they had found. Every single rock was a treasure to them. It’s been a long time since I had so much awe over rocks.

Brendyn trying his hand at panning for gold.

This was the best vacation we have ever had. I know I said this before, but the kids were So good. And we had so much fun! We are so blessed.

Five special blessings to me today: Starting (home)school in one week, vacation memories, hand-me-downs, sweet tea, and far away family.

We are so blessed!

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Treasure Hunting (Part One)

Inside Lost River Cave

(This is part of a series of our Vacation Posts.)

We actually went Treasure Hunting twice on Vacation, so keep watch for Part Two – when we went Treasure Hunting in North Carolina!

While looking up things to do on our journey, I was excited to find that we could go Treasure Hunting twice, and in different geographical areas.

The first time was at Lost River Caves, in Bowling Green, Kentucky. We started by taking a boat tour through the caves. These caves have a lot of history to them (they were part of a mill, a dance club, involved in several wars, etc.)

The caves were neat, and aside from the fact that we personally could just roll our eyes at the “millions and millions of years ago” part, very educational!

After the caves, a short hike away, was a Butterfly Habitat. Although touching the butterflies is not recommended, the children enjoyed going from flower to flower and seeing them all so up-close. We had fun determining how many species were there and pointing them out to one another. I wish I would have gotten a picture of Brendyn sitting on the stone bench in the middle of the garden in awe at all the butterflies around him.

After our hike back to the gift shop area, and drinks all around of Gatorade, we were ready to Treasure Hunt.  They had a sluice box set up, and you bought bags of dirt (approximately a half-gallon size). They had fossil bags, of which we bought one (and found two sharks teeth, some petrified wood, and some shells), and gemstone bags (Of which we bought four!).

We settled down, each of us with a screen box in front of us. Once the kids “got it” they were pretty self-sufficient, although I did help out the girls, and Austin helped out Wyatt.

First, you put a bit of dirt into your box.

Wash it in the running water of the sluice … The dirt and small stones wash away. Although Brendyn sat closest to the place where all the waste dumped and found lots of treasure there!

Once all the dirt and tiny stones are washed away, you can pick out the “pretty stuff”. After our kids picked through and put their treasure in their bags, they would pass their box to Mom or Dad for a quick look to make sure they didn’t leave anything behind, and then one of us would dump out the rocks, and give them more dirt.

I think half the fun was holding up every other rock and saying “Mom, look at this one.” Or, “Madelynne, look a pink one.”, Or “Dad, look how big this one is!” This is our cumulative collection from Lost River.

Our kids (and us) had so much fun Treasure Hunting. It was one of their fondest memories from all of vacation. Now, I don’t know what I will do with all these “pretties”. but I have a few thoughts rolling around. Madelynne wants Daddy to drill some holes in some of it so she can have a bracelet. We are so blessed!

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Zoo Atlanta

When I was looking for things to do on our trip, I’d have to say a Zoo wasn’t at the top of my list. We had been to our Zoo here in September, and then again in April, and we have a good zoo. A really good zoo. But, see, here’s the thing. I love panda bears! And it has been a dream of mine since being a young girl to see a panda bear. When I was a kid the closest zoo that had them was in Washington DC. But when I clicked on the Zoo Atlanta page and the *first* thing I saw was that they had Panda’s – my mind was made up that THAT is where we were going!

When we got to Atlanta it was HOT! 107 degrees hot. It smelled hot. My hopes for the zoo were low, because I know that a lot of the times heat makes animals lazy! But the Zoo was great! Maybe the best we’ve ever been too! For a lot of their enclosures they had a glass wall so my little kids could walk right up and see in the enclosure without having to be picked up, climb up the walls or try to peer through fence holes. And the animals were very active, (except for the lion, who was taking an afternoon nap!)

The first and the last animal we saw was the elephants. I had just remarked to Brendyn about how the Red Georgia Clay when a grown woman went to the animal keeper to ask Why and How they had Red Elephants. I think it was all the keeper could do to keep a straight face and say it is our dirt that is red, not our elephants. It was interesting to note throughout the day, that they also had “red” warthogs, “red” and black zebras, “red” rhinoceros, and many other “red” animals!

At the end of the days like this, I always ask my kids what was their favorites. Brendyn’s favorite was the snake house. Literally a huge room filled with snakes, including the King Cobra (his favorite.), Madelynne’s favorite was the apes. We got to see a Mommy ape with its baby and watch them play together, and saw how the Mommy helped the baby go down a hill. Wyatt’s favorite was the Giraffe. Both Tyler and Adreya though, probably in a way to make brownie points with Mom, picked the Panda Bear. 

The Panda was, of course, my favorite animal to see and I could have watched them ALL DAY! In the first enclosure, there were two smaller bears, one was napping and the other was wandering around. These enclosures had a glass front, so when the panda walked by, it was walking right in front of us. Even cooler was the bigger panda in the second enclosure. It was leaning against the glass, using its teeth to pull leaves off a bamboo shoot. Once it had plenty of leaves in its mouth, it would take the leaves out, roll them up burrito-style and eat them. It was really neat to watch!

With the panda leaning against the glass, you could put your hand on the glass and know the panda was right on the other side, just the glass separating you.You can see in this picture how close my kids were to the panda! Except for the spot where you see the wall, it looks like my kids were in with him! It was so easy to fall in love with those giant black and white  bears all over again!

We have been blessed!

Five Special Blessings to Me Today: Seeing a panda (actually 3), Making new memories, Kids that behave well enough that we can have fun together, A husband who indulges me (even though we had been to the zoo twice and Busch Gardens in the last year and it was 107 degrees!), God’s wonderful creations

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There is so much to say about vacation that I feel as if I should write several posts all about it, (rather than making you feel as if you are reading a novel), and probably should have all along the way, but we were too busy having fun, and as a side bonus, my phone didn’t work much at all, so it gave me even more reason to focus on being a family and enjoying our break. Two Weeks! I have never had a vacation this long before. We were ready for it, and then ready to be home! Which really makes it the perfect vacation! It gave us the break we needed from our everyday life so that we could appreciate our every day life more! (Like sleeping in our own beds, and getting back on a schedule, and eating our own food!)

There were so many great things we did – Zoo Atlanta, Treasure Hunting, The Lake, Seeing Family, Staying with the Amish. I might have to make each of those an individual blog post! Also, traveling with six kids (five of them six and under, including an infant) I definitely could write a Travel Tips post. So, you’ll just have to follow along with me on this journey as I recount our memories!

Here is a quick rundown of our itinerary.

Friday – We picked up Brendyn from church camp, packed, and got on the road. We drove to Atlanta.

Saturday – Zoo Atlanta!

Sunday – We visited friends of the family in Atlanta and drove to Bowling Green, Kentucky.

Monday – Lost River Cave, Butterfly Habitat, and Gem Mining, drove to Indianapolis.

Tuesday – Let the kids play at the playground and drove to The Lake. Got our tent set up and started camping.

Wednesday – Saturday – Camping at The Lake with Family.

Sunday – Visited more family.

Monday – Drove to Ohio and stayed with an Amish Family.

Tuesday – Drove to Union Mills, North Carolina

Wednesday – Went Gem Mining and Gold Panning. Drove to South Carolina.

Thursday – Drove home.

We had a GREAT time. I have about half of my laundry caught up and most of my sleep! All of our kids traveled wonderfully! We are all a little tanner, and all the kids have blonde streaks in their  hair. I can’t wait to get it all written out (with pictures) and it will be a great way to preserve the memory!

We have been blessed!

Five special blessings to me today: People who missed us while we were gone, the Resources to take the vacation, People who look forward to us taking the next vacation, Sleeping in my own bed, a FIXED air conditioner


Flooding the floor

I am Blessed. I am extremely Blessed. I am the my-cup-runneth-over-and-it’s-flooding kind of blessed. Not because things are perfect. They are not. For example, we are on Day Nine of no air conditioning. In Florida. In the Summer. And it’s hot. But I am still blessed. Blessed to have a room a/c in our bedroom. Blessed to have friends that let us borrow a couple of fans and another room a/c for Mom’s room. Blessed that there has been a breeze.

We are blessed. Blessed to be able to go on vacation. Blessed to have the time and the money to do it. Blessed to get to do some things we’ve always wanted to do – See a panda, Go treasure hunting, Pan for gold. Blessed to get to see some Family that I haven’t seen in WAY too long. Blessed that we will get two weeks as a family together.

I am blessed to have some new friends. New friends who are becoming good friends. That in a short time I really care about. Whose kids I like and whose kids my kids like. Who are traveling the same path as me. Who some even have as many kids as me! Who homeschool like me. Where I can fit in and not be odd because we live a certain way and have a houseful of kids and we gasp! homeschool them. I like these new friends!

We are blessed. Blessed to have healthy children and healthy parents. We have everything we need and lots of things we want. We are so blessed.

So very Blessed.

Extremely Blessed.

Our cups are full.

And running over.

And flooding onto the floor.

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