Visiting Grandmom

Saturday, November 11th, 2017

29 October Sunday

We’re about an hour and a half out from Thor. A woman in a turn lane to our right just flagged us down to tell us one of our doors was open!! It’s the propane tank door which doesn’t lock, it just has latches to keep the door closed. I think that may mean we’re on the bumpiest roads we’ve ever been on if it knocked those knobs loose during this drive!

We’re almost to the Thor factory in IN and have now seen two Amish(?) horse-and-buggies crossing this 4-land divided highway! It’s a funny sight.

30 October Monday

Today we’re driving to Harrisburg PA. We had plans to stop at a Wal-Mart along the way and buy DVD players for the boys for this stupid-long drive, but we forgot we’d be on turnpikes the whole way and wouldn’t be able to easily get off and on again. Max is doing 2 days of school, though, so maybe it’s a moot point.

We stopped at a service plaza to gas up and get food. As we sat there eating a woman was cleaning nearby and Jack said, “Good job sweep up food off floor lady!” Heh. She didn’t hear him but it made all of us chuckle.

We checked in at the hotel and then had supper at a nearby Arby’s. We went back to the hotel and Tj took a shower, and then we took him to the airport.

31 October Tuesday

I thought I had 3 hours to drive today, but Google says it’s only 2!! Woot! We leisurely got up, ate the hotel breakfast and headed out. I called Grandmom after we got on the turnpike, but my call wouldn’t go through! I tried her several times, and then tried to call Papa just to test it out, but I couldn’t make an outgoing call. The recording kept talking about reconnecting my service. I didn’t want to wake Tj up so I figured we’d wait till we saw Grandmom.

We got to her house just fine and then I had her call me. Come to find out Tj didn’t pay our phone bill! At least that’s what I kept telling everyone. Heh. Actually our credit card changed and he forgot to change it over. Fortunately it was a simple fix.

That night we handed out candy to trick-or-treaters while we waited for Amanda to bring her kids so we could all trick-or-treat together. When she finally got there we could see that her mom had already taken them trick-or-treating without us! That was rotten. Amanda brought pizza so we all scarfed down a piece and headed out. Amanda was so cute with Jack; when I wasn’t right there with him she walked him to the door. Jack said ‘trick-or treating’ every time. Heh.

After a while Grandmom was ready to go back so Nicki and Eddie walked back with her and their new baby. Amanda, Justin, Dominic, Max, Jack and I kept on. After another little while I told Amanda I was fine to go back when her boys were tired out. My boys were getting tired, but also not begging to go on. Amanda kept us going on.

1 November Wednesday

Today at breakfast I had to chuckle. There was a woman with some special needs, but she was at breakfast by herself. She must have had at least one of everything for breakfast! There were 3 full plates of food, 2 full bowls, a yogurt and a banana, and I don’t even know what all else. I can totally imagine Jack doing that when he gets old enough to go to breakfast by himself!

After we were all ready we headed over to Grandmom’s…it was probably about 10am. We headed out to Wal-Mart and I got my oil changed there. Grandmom wanted to buy both the boys toys so we spent a good bit of time in the toy aisle. We had lunch at Subway while we waited for the truck to be ready.

We went back to Grandmom’s then and the two of us snoozed on the couch and chair while the boys played with their new toys. Then we took the dogs for a walk. Grandmom complained that she’d never taken all 3 dogs for a walk before…so why was she taking them all now? She gave me one to walk, but she didn’t like how I walked him. I was trying to use some of the dog whisper’s techniques on him (ha!), and Grandmom didn’t like that he was straining at the leash so hard. So she gave me a different dog, but I treated him the same way. I’m a bad daughter-in-law.

Grandmom and Max went to the school after-care program and got the boys so all 4 boys could play together. After a while inside we moved out the stuff in the back of my truck and all piled in to head off to a nearby park. It was closed! Ugh. We missed it by about 30 minutes.

My boys and I headed off to the hotel, but stopped at WaWa on the way and got supper. I got the Thanksgiving bowl Grandmom suggested and Max had a buffalo chicken sandwich. Jack and I split the bowl which had a base of mashed potatoes and stuffing, then turkey, gravy and cranberry sauce on it. It was pretty good!

2 November Thursday

Max slept hard so Jack and I got ready to go to breakfast. Max woke up while we were sneaking out so I told him where we were going and that I’d bring him some breakfast. As we were right at the dining room Max came running up in his pj’s! He’d locked himself out of the room to come ask me if he could watch some TV while we were eating. Cheeky! On our way back to the room I asked Jack to hold my water bottle and halfway there he said, “I drinked your water!”!!!! That boy is using more and more full sentences!

Before leaving the hotel I called Jo to see if she had more info on Momee and the memorial service than I had. It seems like the service won’t be this weekend no matter what, so that makes my life easier. I was a little stressed about leaving the boys with Grandmom and flying down to LA for that, so I can relax a little now.

Grandmom wanted the boys to go to a park today so I set up the GPS to take us there. I didn’t check the weather before we set out, and it was hot! We stopped by WM to return some stuff and bought Jack a short sleeved shirt. While at the park a reporter asked if he could take the boys’ pictures and put them in the paper! Famous boys!

When it came time for supper we decided to have Mexican, but Grandmom said we shouldn’t got to the place I found on Yelp because it was in Camden. I told her (I’d spoken to Tj about it) that it was on Camden Ave not in Camden and she seemed ok with that. She’d found another place but it had all kinds of food, the one I found only had Mexican, and purported to be authentic. From our conversation I thought we agreed to skip her restaurant and go to mine. When Ryan came in she told him we were going to her restaurant. When I corrected her she got annoyed. Now we’re not having Mexican. Ok then.

Grandmom rummaged around and found mac and cheese, hot dogs and Red Lobster cheese biscuits, so that’s what we had. I made the biscuits while she made the other things. Max slept over tonight.

3 November Friday

On the way to Grandmom’s today I stopped to get gas. I forgot until I was pulling in that I can’t pump my own gas in NJ. Man, that’s a strange feeling just sitting there while watching a guy do what I’m perfectly capable of doing. He was kinda snotty when I asked if I needed to go in to swipe my card. Whatever, jerk. He didn’t have any newspapers so I went to WaWa to get 2 papers with the boys’ pictures in them.

While we hung out at Grandmom’s for a while I started cleaning out a closet for her. Dianne and the girls seem to buy so much stuff and then leave it and buy more. This closet was chock full of scrapbooking and other art supplies. It was fun to take whatever I wanted…within reason, of course. Not living in a house does have some disadvantages. The other day I shopped in Grandmom’s basement and found a Swiffer steam mop that Grandmom let me have.

Today we went to Chuck E Cheese and the boys were in heaven. We snoozed again at Grandmom’s, and then went to Ken’s store to pick up supper. I’m so amazed…it’s an awesome looking store! We went on Sam’s house after. We had an enjoyable time at Sam’s until Max lost my keys!!!!!!!!!! Ugh. At least I have Tj’s spare keys, but I tore Sam’s house up! I did find an old iPhone that Sam let me keep, but no keys. I wasn’t good company after that. The crazy thing (to me) is that while I was outside looking for the keys Sam and Grandmom were inside setting up a game! Whatever.

4 November Saturday

Grandmom came to the hotel today to hang out. When I had her and the boys set up at the pool I went out to the truck to tear it apart to find my keys. No luck. But I did find the stretchy fence that came with the truck that will keep stuff from falling out when we open the back. Why haven’t I been using this all this time???!!!

We had lunch at the hotel of stuff from Ken’s: cheese lasagne, chicken pot pie and chicken coconut soup. They were all amazing, but my favorite was the lasagne. Then we drove to Sam’s to do more looking. I found their rake and sent Max to rake the whole front yard. After about 10 minutes, as I was praying, I looked up in the tree and there they were!! When I exclaimed Max said oh yeah, now I remember hanging them there!!! Oh my word. Sadly that sounds exactly like something I would have done. Exactly. This family is doomed.

We headed to the trampoline place, but when we found out we’d have to wait 2 hours I balked. We went next to get Jack’s glasses repaired (a screw fell out of them last night), and then we went back to the hotel. The boys were happy to play with their things. It surprised me that when I asked Jack if he wanted to go swim he said no.

For supper we went to Buffalo Wild Wings. We drove separate cars so after supper the boys and I went home for showers and bed.

5 November Sunday

We went to church with Grandmom, and the music was rocking! I wish I had made Max stay with us…the speaker was wonderful! He was a missionary in Muslim countries and had several stories of how the faith of him and his wife had been tested. Max went with Jack to be his helper. After church we had lunch at Cherry Hill Diner. The waitress was a real pill…she was in a mood and let us know it! Max got hot wings and Grandmom, Jack and I split a special with crab cakes that were wonderful. With our meal we also got a salad, two sides (beets and fries) and a dessert. Yum! Grandmom went on home and the boys and I split a piece of German Chocolate cake that was pretty good.

We went back to the room to nap after I bought tickets for the Alton Brown show!! Tj arrived while we were napping…it’s so good to have him back! When Jack woke up we headed over to Grandmom’s. We ordered cheesesteak for supper and visited a while. We brought clothes for the boys and they spent the night there.

Alton Brown’s show wasn’t at all what I expected. Although, honestly I had no idea what to expect. He sang and told jokes, bantered with the crew and the audience a bit too. One of the guys made him a drink and then he brought out a Price Is Right wheel and choose someone out of the audience. She spun 3 wheels to choose 3 ingredients of her drink, and it was nasty! All 3 ingredients were on the bitter side. AB said he would add 1 ingredient that would change the taste of the drink…nitrogen. He turned the table top upside and the supports made channels the length of the table. He poured the nitrogen into those channels to cool the metal. Then they sprayed the drink into those channels and it froze…now she basically had a slushy. Fun!

The second half of the show he talked about popcorn. He came out with a huge light, probably at least 4′ in diameter, with popcorn kernels all over it. He and 2 of his guys sang while it popped all over the stage. More happened, but overall it was a good show. It was nigh on to midnight when we made it back. Grandmom said we needed to be at her house by 9am to get the boys. Heh.

6 November Monday

We got up early to bring breakfast to the boys but Grandmom said no need. Tj made himself a breakfast sandwich and we headed over there. We just hung around a while and then found out that Ken’s shelves were in. Grandmom and Ken insisted that we needed to rent a truck to pick up the shelves but we unloaded the back of our truck and I drove it to FMP following everyone else in Grandmom’s car there. The shelves fit with a lot of room to spare, and we shopped a little too! We got a replacement thermometer and 2 pizza screens.

When we got to the store we offered to put the shelves together, and so we did. They weren’t hard, and it was fun to be in the back. Grandmom and the boys ate while Tj and I did that. When we were finished we nibbled on the unwanted half of Grandmom’s sandwich. I talked to the lady behind the counter, and she offered to make us an anti pasto plate, and boy was it awesome! We also shopped a good bit and got everything at half off. I told her I wanted to pay full price and she said that even the employees got half off, so that’s what we paid.

We hung out at Grandmom’s house for a bit and then she went to pick up the boys again to play with our boys. Before their mom came we left to go to the Iron Hill Brewery for supper. Grandmom was whipped, but she said Amanda didn’t come get the boys until after 7pm.

7 November Tuesday

I washed 2 loads of clothes here already. I didn’t mean to, but the first time Jack wet the bed slightly. I washed the second load because Grandmom was washing her things but had plenty of room for our stuff so we threw them in. But then this morning Tj spilled coffee on 1 of his 3 shirts so we did a 3rd load.

We went to the bank for Ken today, and then went to a super WM to get a sewing machine for Grandmom. On the way she needed to send a text to Ken saying she had his meds. Since she didn’t have her glasses handy I offered to text him for her. I sent: Yo Dawg! I got your drugs! Hit me up when you want them. Heh. I laughed a lot more than that warranted. I don’t think he laughed, though. He went home to get them but we weren’t home! So we went to the store to hand them over.

We were starving by this time, but we drove back near Grandmom’s house and ate at the Mexican restaurant I’d found a few days ago. The people working there were Mexican, and the 2 tables of people eating there were all Mexican, too. I think that’s the sign of an authentic ethnic place…when the customers are the same ethnicity as the place. It was awesome food, too. Tj, Jack and I split 2 plates with carne asada, chorizo, chicken, shrimp etc.

We went to Grandmom’s and messed around. Tj looked at Ken’s computer and is hoping to help Ken design and print his menus. After a bit Ken asked Grandmom if we’d go to BJ’s and get him some flour. We left Max behind so he could get a ride in Ryan’s Charger. Jack, Tj, Grandmom and I perused BJ’s and we bought some mints, brownies and cookies. Yum!

We brought Grandmom back to her house and then said our goodbyes!

8 November Wednesday

Today was our 13 hour drive from NJ to IN. At our first stop 4 hours in I got a text from Papa that Momee had just died. Mom has been with her in LA for at least 2 weeks so we knew this was coming, but….you know how it is. I know she’s better off now. I know now she’s not disoriented or in pain, but I’m still a little sad. She hasn’t been the Momee I knew for many years, but that’s the Momee I miss. I’m thankful that we had many years of assurances that she was saved, so we don’t have that to worry about. But it’s still a little sad when your grandmother dies.

When we got off the highway and were on our last 30 minutes we stopped at a convenience store and bought a gallon of milk and some doughnuts. We’re hoping to not have to unhook the truck for the next two or three days…however long we take to get to GA.

The Thor guys had set up the bus with the front tires off the ground, so we releveled. They also left the heat on at 72. Heh. This place was warm! We quickly turned that way down and set up. They’d shut off the water but filled up our fresh water tank. The crazy thing was that this was the first time that the back bedroom stayed cold all night. Usually, even in almost freezing temps, we crack the windows back there. But not tonight!

9 November Thursday

We had our walk-through with the Thor guy early this morning, and then we hit the road. We didn’t have a definite stopping point in mind, so I called a place while we were on the road and the guy said they had plenty of spots so he didn’t take a reservation.

We saw that our mid-day gas stop had a Denney’s so we made the most of that. We were surprised that we were there almost 2 hours! Tj gassed up, then we moved to a parking place, and then we had a nice, sit-down meal. My chicken fried steak with white gravy was awesome, and the mashed potatoes with white gravy were also awesome! Honestly, we’re all so tired from these last few days, this was a nice break.

We set up at the campground while the boys played at the playground. Tj ordered us a pizza and we got into bed early tonight. I think we were both asleep at 9:30!!

10 November Friday

Jack woke us up this morning around 4:30 coughing violently. I thought maybe he slept so hard with his mouth open and it had all dried out. He was thrashing around and not making eye contact, but didn’t seem like he needed to throw up…I figured all that coughing would make him throw up, though. I got the dish towel and held it to his mouth. After he didn’t quit Max jumped out of bed and got me a bowl, and when Jack still didn’t settle down I called Tj to come. I couldn’t hug Jack and keep that towel at his mouth so I thought Tj could hug him. It didn’t help much, though. In the end he did manage to spit up a bit, but I don’t think he vomited. We brought him back to our bed with a towel, but he didn’t settle down to sleep. Tj got him a Tums and I let him have a little water. When he still didn’t settle down I made him go to the bathroom though he kept saying he didn’t want to. He laid on the floor while I went, and then I kinda forced him onto the toilet. He went to the bathroom and then he really threw up. I feel kinda bad that I forced him, but at least now it was over! We changed his clothes and wiped him off, Tj threw everything in the washer (a nice perk of living in a tiny space is that it’s all right there), and then we went to bed. He took just a few minutes and then he slept, and we all slept.

Now we’re on the road to GA. We slept last night at Dad’s Bluegrass Campground, and hopefully tonight we’ll set up our spot for the next month and a half! This last month or so has been so tiring…we’ll all be glad to settle down for a bit.

Church Camp and thereabouts

Saturday, November 4th, 2017

13 October Friday

We sent the boys out to play at the playground and we got all packed to go. I drove the first part of the trip separately and made one last stop here in CO. I called Grandmom and visited with her while I caught up to the boys.

We got to the campground in Amarillo and got just about all set up and then the smell! There’s obviously a cow farm upwind somewhere. Yuck! I hope this smell isn’t here the whole time!

I pulled out most of our leftovers for supper while we watched Lost.

14 October Saturday

Tj woke up early and went to get doughnuts for us…the boys never woke up! After he’d been back 30 minutes or more we finally heard some stirring. We all had doughnuts and chocolate milk a la Monmon. Yum!

Our first stop today was Cadillac Ranch, and of course we forgot our spray paint! They were selling it for $4/can at the gate but we passed. Then a woman offered us her partially used can. Awesome! We all sprayed a bit, I sprayed an arrow. Max climbed some nearby hay bales, and then we headed back out. The spray paint guy had cross-sections of the paint made into necklaces and key rings, and even though they were really pretty we passed on those too.

We went to the RV museum next. It was so cool to see so many very old RVs. A lot of them reminded me of Monmon’s old apartment…so much of the cabinetry was made of varnished plywood. We also bought another light switch (of the kind that are always going out) to have on hand, and saw some cool camping chairs that we later ordered online. We shipped them to Jennifer’s house and they’ll bring them to camp for us. Awesome friends are awesome!

We headed out to Palo Duro Canyon next, but it was drizzling. Fortunately 1/4 of the way there the rain stopped and the weather was beautiful out there. We stopped at a mom and pop hamburger stand and had a small lunch. Jack spilled his coke on me there! That’s the first time that’s happened in a long time, thankfully. When we got to the canyon we walked and hiked a bit. On the way back I went to call Hometown Auto in Bebee to see if I could get an appointment…and then Tj and I got into a great big ‘discussion’ about the stupid calendar. It really annoys me that the calendar changes all my appointments when I cross timelines. If I want an appointment for 2pm on the 17th that’s when I want it…not for it to change to 3pm and cause me to miss it because I was in CO when I made it and will be in AR when I attend it!!!!

It almost made us yucky with each other, but then I realized we’re different people. What’s important to Tj isn’t important to me, and vice versa. And that’s ok. It’s normal. It would be strange if we always agreed on everything. But sometimes it’s hard to just let it go, and let each other be different. Tj sees my anger and frustration at the program as frustration at him. Ugh. Humans. Both of us.

We got over it, though, and then went to the Big Texan for supper. Ummmmm….steak.

15 October Sunday

We left the camp about 10:45. Fortunately the smell from the first day was pretty much a one-time thing. We caught a whiff of it once or twice more but that was it.

We just passed the Britten water tower leaning over! One of it’s legs is completely clear of the ground which makes me think it’s not supposed to be leaning at such an angle!

One thing I forgot to mention about Colorado is that it’s the place with the awkward entrances to stores. You can see a store from a semi-main road, but then you have to drive all the way around to the side or back of the building to find the entrance! That was annoying the first few times till we figured it out. And then it was only slightly less annoying. Heh.

In other news I’m still taking my Flonase and it’s working for me now.

16 October Monday and Tuesday

We got to Mt Magazine Monday evening. Tuesday and Wednesday we did school until lunch and then drove and walked to various overlooks. There’s just something about looking out over to other mountains that is so beautiful and serene. We went to The Lodge and sat outside and watched the hang gliders lazily soar…sometimes below us and sometimes above. I’d like to do that some day.

Each day I made a couple of recipes for camping this weekend: Italian Pressed Sandwiches, Mom’s enchiladas, pizza dough and chicken for Buffalo chicken pizza. TJ made Alton Brown’s chili for Frito chili pie. Sometimes while I cooked Tj and Max played with our new Recoil set. The second day TJ wiped out! The palm of his hand is torn up…he’s gonna be sore tomorrow!

One day we did a little hike to the highest point in Ar, Signal Hill. It was cool to see a map of AR set into the ground with rocks.

19 October Thursday

We’re driving now to Petit Jean for church camp! The Jones are on their way too. We stopped at WM for some last minute things and should be there within the hour.

What a wonderful time Church Camp has been, even better than usual. Of course I appreciate it more now seeing all these friends we haven’t seen in a while, and getting to spend a whole weekend with them. I went on fewer walks than ‘usual’, but I did play kickball with Amy and the Burlesons, etc. I made homemade cinnamon rolls Friday morning and I had to add probably a cup of flour to the dough! I’ve never had to add any flour, I guess it was the humidity. Speaking of which, we slept with the windows open the first night, and then saw that there was 80% humidity in the bus! We ran the dehumidifier after that, and slept with the a/c on to help it out.

JP and JJ brought their Recoil guns so several times adults and kids got to play this weekend.

The weather was great till Saturday night. All of the tent campers went home except for the Addison’s future son-in-law, poor sap! One camper camper left because they didn’t want big limbs falling on their camper. I laughed, until that night I heard bigger thumps on our roof than ever before. Thank the Lord there was no damage though. We had lots of campfires, and pecans, and the kids played games in big groups. It was just a wonderful time!

We and the Joneses stayed till Monday morning and then went to David’s on the way home. Afterwards I drove ahead to the base and picked out our site. When he was finished setting up Tj took the boys to the hardware store to buy a new motor for the back bathroom fan. That night I went to Jennifer’s for girls night. I brought all the shirts I was considering using for our family pictures the next day and got the girls’ approval. We watched a few episodes of This Is Us, and I gave the girls their Christmas presents. I stayed up till 1:15am without it even being a struggle! But that’s not to say that I do that usually, I’m still a morning, not a night person. I did two loads of wash while there, which was nice.

Tuesday morning I had a massage scheduled with Christy Materna, and she’s as awesome as always! Man, that felt good! While Tj did school with Jack he said he got an A percent!! I guess he’s heard Max shout out enough that he’s gotten an A 100% that he felt like he should get one too ๐Ÿ™‚

When I got back I ate a hurried lunch, and then we went to get Jack’s ID. Jack and I took a nap after that, but Tj stayed up and worried about his schedule. We were sure we’d be going to NJ after dropping the bus off, but his schedule had him flying the entire time we planned to be in NJ. Ugh. That night he went out with his guys for some Recoil and supper. Fun!

Wednesday morning we met J Alford for family photos…I hadn’t thought about it being 9am and how cold it was then!! Tj and I had short sleeves on and it was in the 30’s! Doh!

From there we went to the church and visited a bit, then to First Street Cafe for lunch. Sadly I think they’ve changed management and their Reuben isn’t what it used to be. And they no longer had the awesome fries they used to have! Makes me so sad. We shopped at Dirt Cheap for a bit and bought Max 3 pairs of shoes and Jack a new school book.

We went home for a nap, and then we met the Hoopers so Tj could present him with a saber from the Academy. Tj feels disappointed that we gave it to him at a restaurant, but I felt like presenting him a gift from us to him in front of a group would be showing off. After handing it to him we realized that the handle was bent!!!!! Great! We give him something with a lot of meaning and it’s broken!! Fortunately Tj called the AOG and they said they’ll send Greg a new one with return postage for the broken one. I’m so thankful they didn’t make a fuss at all about that!

27 October Friday

We drove from AR to MO today. It was a pretty short drive, and pretty easy, too. The hardest part was getting onto 67/167 right at the base. All the construction has the onramp there shorter than normal, and the concrete barricades make it hard to see the traffic, and the rain had fogged up the windows a bit. I sat with Max to help gauge the ongoing traffic.

When we got set up at the campground in MO Tj and I each confessed to the other…he had forgotten the pin on the drive from Petit Jean, and I hadn’t been careful when checking the traffic coming out of a parking lot. Whew! The Lord has been good to us!

We’re eating lots of leftovers today to empty the fridge before we leave the bus at Thor. At 8:30pm Tj unhooked the water hose outside…campground rules. We followed the rest of the 30 degree weather checklist, but slept with the propane heater set to 60 and our windows cracked…it gets so hot in our bedroom. Everything worked fine this morning when Tj hooked our water back up. We won’t have sewer hookups tonight, and the following night we’ll spend at Thor so we’re planning all that out too.

On top of all that Tj can’t find a campground close to Mom with long-term stay, and we don’t want to talk to her right now. It seems like Momee is on her deathbed. Mom is in LA for the time being.

28 October Saturday

Jack came and got into the bed with us this morning. He was pretty quiet, but his lips had color so I didn’t think he was sick. He seemed so quiet and sad, though. I played ‘Shake It Off’ thinking a happy song would set him to rights. We got out of bed and I started getting ready to make him an egg sandwich. After a minute he still looked so sad. I sat down and hugged him and then he had a few tears roll down his cheeks!!! My poor baby!! When I asked him what the matter was he just said I’m happy. Poor kid. He just can’t tell us what’s wrong. Nothing will break your heart more than to see this usually happy boy so unexplainedly sad, and to know that we can’t help the root cause of his sadness. But it’s 2 hours later and we’re driving from MO to IL and he’s laughing uncontrollably.

Tj and I wracked our brains, and the new plan now is Tj and I will drive toward NJ Monday after the walk through with Thor. He’ll catch a plane to work in Harrisburg PA and the boys and I will spend the night there and continue on to NJ the next morning. Tj will fly into NJ Sunday night the 5th, and we’ll make our way back to Thor Wednesday the 8th. We’ll head down to GA when Thor is finished. On the drive today I called 3 places and finally found a place an hour and 12 minutes from Mom’s. I was hoping to be about half an hour from her place but beggars can’t be choosers! The closer places to her wouldn’t let us reserve until 2 weeks out and they were full then, so we’re still on several waiting lists. I don’t know if it’ll be a good move to move the bus closer to Mom if a spot opens up. Lots of ‘we’ll see’ like always.

When we got to the campground tonight Tj stopped short of the office and I ran up to it to check in. As I was passing this car stopped nearby the woman in it started shouting, “Hang on hang on hang on!!” I kept running because I had no way of knowing that she was shouting at me, but she was! She was the camp host, and they were leaving for the season. She told us how to find our site, and then they left. Well. We found it, but it was an awkward setup. We drove around to look at the one pull-through site thinking we could do like we’ve done the last two nights and just not disconnect the truck, but there was no water at the pull-through. Then we looked harder at our site and Tj tried to pull forward into it and the electrical line wouldn’t reach. We started looking at all the sites and most didn’t have water. There were a few communal faucets with ‘no permanent hookup’ signs…ugh. Then Tj had the brilliant idea to use the camp host site!!! We hooked everything up while the boys were at the playground, and just crossed our fingers that we wouldn’t be called out on it. We worried a few times as we saw this guy dressed up like a ranger come around, but I think he was just exercising.

When the boys came home from the playground Max startled a deer! It was cool to see their little white tails running off into the forest right in front of our bus.

Our last days in CO

Friday, November 3rd, 2017

27 September Wednesday

Today was a day to ourselves! Man, we really needed it. We’ve been super rocky lately, and we just need some time for things to get back to normal, but it’s hard when your time is not your own.

After school when I was preparing pizza for lunch Tj said he’d take over and I should go have some down time! Hallelujah! I needed a break. I went out to eat at a wonderful Mexican place, and then went to 3 Goodwills (where I found nothing exciting!! Boo!!!), and then went to Wal-Mart to pick up Tj’s order and do a big grocery shop.

28 September Thursday

Today was a nice, normal day; and then at 7:45pm I took Tj to the airport. When I got back I put on some TV and painted my fingernails red. I needed a pick-me-up!

29 September Friday

Today was the typical day-after-Tj-leaves: I cleaned out the fridge and made a meal plan to eat all the odds and ends left over from a week of craziness. Then after school and lunch Jack and I took a wonderfully long nap.

After the boys were in bed for the night and I read for a little while, I snuggled down to work on my second basket and watch a movie. Then one of Tjs old friends asked how I was…there’s an active shooter here! I texted TJ, and have now turned off the TV and all other lights. I’m not turning on the a/c so as to keep the sound down, too. I’m glad the boys are asleep. TJ says if we hear shots to put the boys on the floor. I think in the bedroom would be best…there’s more cabinets around in this area than in other parts of the bus. I’m not too scared. But it’s crazy to think about. We are in God’s hands. Whatever happens he already knows.

30 September Saturday

I’m glad I didn’t freak out about the shooter…turns out it was a hoax! Times like this certainly make you think about your priorities!

1 October Sunday

We went to the Academy chapel this morning, and I was hoping to hear their awesome organ. They didn’t play the organ, but we did get to hear from a female chaplin! Oh well. We’re gonna go back next week at the earlier service and hopefully they’ll play it then. And hopefully it will be awesome.

2 October Monday

We went out to eat after school, and then went shopping. I couldn’t remember the name of the soup I wanted, but after tasting the great soup at this restaurant I remembered it’s Tom Yum. The waitress here told me where to get some, so we’ll be going out to eat again soon ๐Ÿ™‚

3 October Tuesday

I finished my second basket tonight. I probably could have finished it quicker, but I keep waffling on the best way to finish it. Run the stitches out at the handle or in the middle of a row? Oh yeah, and I had to rip out the beginning a million times because I thought I could wing it and not follow the pattern. I can’t.

4 October Wednesday

We did our errands in the morning and school in the afternoon. It’s crazy how different it seems. We take the same amount of time for school and free time, but it sure seems like we have less free time when we take it in the mornings.

We bought a saber for Greg, and then went and ordered a display box for it. We got the mail, and then went to the nearby thrift store where Max found a Dalek shirt!

We went to the Commissary afterwards and I was looking forward to making a cake with whipped cream and raspberries in the middle. I was so bummed not to find any raspberries! Wal-Mart had them Monday, but I know better than to buy them before I’m ready to use them. Oh well. I did buy 2 boxes of Devil Cremes at WM the other day so I guess I should wait anyway. I haven’t been able to find Devil Cremes for over a year!

5 October Thursday

It’s supposed to rain this afternoon, so we’ll go outside for a long break from school this morning. Or that’s the plan. Homeschool and travel sure make you be more flexible.

I had a long chat with Mom during my school break. I love that!

6 October Friday

Max had a super short day, so when he finished up around 11 we headed out. I had planned to sightsee Saturday and then Wednesday when Tj was home, but the forecast shows snow Monday, so I hate to take the chance.

We headed over to Outdoor Rec to see about our package from Amazon, and then I got some info from ITT about the places to visit. After getting a full tank of gas we headed out to the German bakery someone told me had wonderful black forest cake. It was an hour and a half drive there, but the scenery was beautiful. Majestic mountains and a beautiful blue sky with awesome white clouds.

We finally made it to Gold Camp Bakery, and I ordered a miner’s pasty for us to split for lunch while I figured out what all desserts we would have. I took Jack to the bathroom while she heated up our lunch and saw that the faucet lit up when you turned it on! The hole where the water came out had a ring of blue light. Fancy! When we went to the bathroom again before leaving I realized that Jack left his big winter coat in there the first time…I’m so glad we got it!!! We ended up having chocolate peanut butter pie, bee sting cake and black forest cake for dessert, and I got a soft pretzel, a kaiser roll and a nut roll to take home.

We then drove to Phantom Canyon Road for the other reason we drove all the way out here. It was a dirt scenic highway, and I stopped so many times to get out and take pictures…it was beautiful! The drive was never scary, but it was often only wide enough for one car. A few cars passed me going the opposite way, but the traffic was so scarce it was easy to take our time. Towards the end of the drive we drove through two rock tunnels. I stopped the truck several times in the tunnels to take pictures, and the second time I opened the sunroof and let the boys stand up while I drove through. What good memories!

We needed milk at home, so we stopped at Wal-Mart once we got back into civilization. Max headed off to the Lego section while I started shopping. I finally broke down and bought the red coat I’ve admired for the last 5 or so years. I only brought a casual heavy coat on this bus trip…trying to be reasonable and not pack heavy, but I’ve missed having a dressier coat every time I went to church in cold weather. I’m so excited! I also bought some raspberries, so I’m planning on making that cake Sunday after my nap.

Google was telling me to turn East out of the parking lot and I said which way is East? Max said it’s right. I was astounded and asked how he knew, and he said it was because the US is West of Europe…and then I died laughing! Turns out he thought Google was saying go East like go right. Heh.

7 October Saturday

We had a lazy morning in bed. I finished my book while Max played Legos and Jack played with his marble tower and watched Animusic 2. Now we’re gonna get ready and go eat some Tom yum soup, and see the Manitou cliff dwellings.

The soup was good, but it wasn’t the taste I remember having in Cabot. I’ll have to try the soup there when we go back and see if it’s the soup or my memory. The ginger chicken was wonderful, though. I asked for medium heat expecting Jack to eat it and Max to complain but eat it. In the end Jack seemed to have some trouble, so I guess it was hotter than I thought! I didn’t make them finish their last bites.

We were on the way to the cliff dwellings and saw a playground on the way. Max asked to stop, so the boys played a while and I watched. I was chatting to a lady in the park and looked over and Jack had a little girl’s swing and was slowing her down! Her dad was swinging next to her, so I apologized to him and got Jack away from there as quickly as possible, but the dad and girl didn’t go back to swing. I didn’t let Jack swing then because that wouldn’t have taught him anything. Guess I wasn’t watching as well as I should’ve been!

We got to Manitou and it’s just a recreation of the original Anasazi cliff dwellings. We were able to walk in and around them, which we wouldn’t have been able to do if they were the original ones, but those are a many-hours drive away. I bought a scalloped Turkish bowl and some praline pecan butter at the gift shop.

We went to WM to return the pants I bought that didn’t fit, and to get eggs and lunchmeat. Max went and picked out the food while I stood in line for the return…he got exactly what I asked for! Once we got home I told Max if he’d take Jack to the playground for an hour I’d give him a Devil Creme. Heh.

8 October Sunday

We went to the early service today, and got to hear the organ…it was beautiful! There was a lady in front of us with short, curly hair, just touching her shoulders; she had a rat tail that went to her knees!!! It was a tiny braid, and it wasn’t matted at all, but it was so long! We walked to the Visitor’s Center after church for some exercise again and saw a sign saying it’s 1/3 mile…not too bad for a Sunday stroll.

At home I made cheese sauce to cover our broccoli and baked potatoes, then Jack and I took a nap. When we got up Max and Jack went to play with Caden and I made a cake. Boxed chocolate cake with upgrades, homemade whipped cream and raspberries in the middle, and that divine chocolate buttercream frosting on top. I think I need to make that black frosting thinner. I kept the cake in the fridge because of the whipped cream, and the frosting was about as stiff as fudge, which meant every time you cut a slice of cake you just mangled it. But, boy did it taste great!!

I brought a piece to Caden’s place but they had company and I didn’t have enough for all of them, so I brought it back home and the boys and I ate it. After supper I had sooooo many dishes to wash! Then I battened down the hatches because the forecast says 100% chance of snow that starts at 2am and continues 24 hours!

9 October Monday

I awoke at 6:30 and checked outside…disappointment! I expected great big fluffy mounds of snow, and there’s only a thin layer on things that are raised off the ground. I’m going to read my Bible now and wait for more snow. Not that I want great big piles of it…I have to go pick up Tj tomorrow and don’t want to drive in that mess. But, you know….

We did school, and took some time out to go play and walk in the snow. I’d never seen such fat/fluffy/wet snowflakes! It was beautiful. And serene. And by supper it was basically all melted. Which was good since I need to drive to the airport tomorrow morning to get Tj.

10 October Tuesday

Jack and I left the house at 6:30am to get Tj. I met Jon Thompson for the first time, but it was cold outside of the restaurant! Jon had to leave his house early for work anyway, so he got Tj from the airport which was near his work and took him to a restaurant where they ate breakfast and waited for me to come.

We went home and Tj went straight to bed. The boys and I had school and then lunch, and then we all drove over to the Arnold’s son’s house for supper. Which was the biggest pizza I’d ever seen! We visited for a while and then went to their condo in Denver and had second supper with their other son and visited some more.

11 October Wednesday

We just had a regular day. Tj didn’t leave the bus, and I just ran to the store for groceries.

12 October Thursday

We had our weekend today and went to the Royal Gorge. On the way there there was an accident that delayed traffic for an hour, but we’d already bought our tickets through ITT so I hated to just give up and throw away about $80! We finally got moving again and went straight to lunch at a BBQ place. I had bbq nachos, and Tj had a burger with both a patty and pulled pork and bacon on it. Both our lunches were awesome!

The Royal Gorge was beautiful. Our tickets included a gondola ride so we did that first. The views were amazing. The boys got to play on a playground there and burn off a little energy they’d accumulated sitting in traffic for so long. When we went to ride the carousel there was a man sitting on the only bench seat, and his son was on a horse. Jack went right up to the man and sat next to him! He’s so awkward and doesn’t even know it! Crazy kid. We walked back over the bridge over the gorge next, and then went to the visitor’s center where Tj bought 2 t-shirts.

While we sat in traffic earlier Bill asked if we wanted to have supper with them so we headed straight to the diner next. It was great to see Mrs. Norma again, but it was sad to see her memory’s going. She told us a few stories that were completely unrelated to the topic of our conversation, and then told us a story starting with, “A few months ago…”. When they heard enough of the story to recognize it Bill and Teresa reminded her that that had happened years ago when she was living in Germany. Otherwise, though, we had a great visit with all 3 of them.

USAFA reunion

Friday, November 3rd, 2017

21 September Thursday

After school we went to the Garden of the Gods and the rocks were magnificent! Max found a painted rock and re-hid it.

At 6pm we went to the meet and greet for Tj’s reunion. Max wanted to go but we told him there weren’t likely to be kids there. In the end there were a few, but he would have been totally bored. We milled around and talked to a few guys, and here and there a girl, too. The spinach dip wasn’t anything to brag about. On our way out we saw Chrissy!!! It was so good to see her after all these years. We got back home around 10pm. Max had gotten a little scared right before we left saying he thought he heard someone else breathing in the bus. (Days later he realized it’s the sound the ice maker makes!) I bought a little black clutch at Goodwill that I used tonight instead of my backpack. It was just the right size, but the opening was a little tight for my phone, so Max was just texting Tj during the night.

22 September Friday

Today we toured USAFA. Tj took us around to all the places he remembered. It was interesting to see where he spent all his time, and to hear the stories he recounted. There was a pizza lunch provided, and as soon as we got there they made an announcement that more pizzas had been ordered and would arrive soon. When they finally got there Tj was in the bathroom with Jack, so Max and I got in the line to get lunch for all of us. I left Max in the line and went ahead to get the plates, and then Max saw Tj coming back so he left the line to tell him where we were. In the end those few minutes cost me pepperoni pizza! At least we got enough to eat. Heh. This wasn’t a very well planned reunion, but it was fun to visit with old friends and for us to get a glimpse of Tj’s past.

We left the boys again for the dinner provided tonight. There was more milling and talking to people who’s names I’ve heard but don’t know. We sat with Bobby and his wife, and the food was pretty good. We got back around 11 and the boys were still awake, barely, watching a movie.

23 September Saturday

We were told we should walk to the game because parking was $10 and likely to be a hassle, and we were only about a half mile from the stadium (I just googled it and it’s a full mile!!). The forecast called for rain, but the sun was shining an hour before the game, so we were hoping for the best. We bundled up and started walking, but it started drizzling halfway there. Ugh. I was hopeful it would just drizzle the whole time, and for a while it did. We immediately stood in line for bison burgers, and
they were awesome! Halfway through eating, though, the rain picked up. The AF had told the head guy he couldn’t have this reunion this weekend, but he did it anyway. One of the results of that is that there was a tent for 500 people for the tailgate, but there were about 1,000 people there including other reunion years. People started pushing in, and a couple of tables were shoved out into the rain so there was more room. The rain fluctuated a bit, and slowed down when we went into the game, but after a short time there it really picked up. We got to see the teams run out, the coin toss, the kickoff and a couple of plays and then we gave up. Tj figured if he was freezing with all the meat on his bones, how cold must our boys be? He read later that there were something like 21,700 people in the stands, but after the rain delay it dropped to 75! We really froze on the way back. One truck stopped and offered us a ride but Tj turned them down. My leather Goodwill boots lasted for a long time, but by the time we got back I could feel the water sloshing in them. Max was miserable during the walk, as we all were; I told him it would be funny looking back on this…what an adventure! He wore his new light up shoes…I hope they still work after all this!

We walked in the bus and had the boys strip down on the gray rug. Max went immediately into a hot shower while Jack hung out at the heater. Jack showered next, and when he got out I saw that there was a leak!!! What it looks like is that the bed slide-out’s seal didn’t unfold properly and water seeped into the room. There was water on either side of the bed, and some had dripped into the area under the bed. Tj watched it a good while and did a good bit of research on youtube, and that’s his best bet. He put the slide in and out a couple of times, and went outside to adjust the seal…now we just wait and see. Fortunately it looks like we’ll have enough rain in the near future to really research this! ๐Ÿ™

24 September Sunday

We’ve been trying to find Mrs. Norma since we started this bus trip. We know she sold her house in Shreveport, but we can’t find her. Tj saw that her DIL attends a church here, so we planned to go there today to see if we can find them.

After a lady helped us find classrooms for our kids Tj asked her if she knew Bill and Teresa, and she said she went to LA Tech with them! She said Bill goes to their other campus now, so we sat through Sunday School and then hopped in the truck and booked it over there. We walked in as they were on their first or second song and Tj saw Bill right away. Sweet! After church we stood around for half an hour catching up. We’ll get to see Mrs. Norma sometime this week.

We went out to Over Easy for lunch. Tj had steak and eggs, and the steak was excellent! I got the crab Benedict on Tj’s recommendation, and we split half and half even though his was vastly superior. He’s a wonderful husband!

25 September Monday

The boys finished their school quickly and we headed over to Tj’s sponsor’s house for lunch. We ended up staying there until after supper! They were such a great couple, and they took him in just like family. I know that’s what sponsors are supposed to do, but I’m sure they’re not all as great as these people are. They had a few pictures of him around the house, and we got to watch some videos of Tj. Seeing him at 19yo was pretty surreal.

Their house was beautiful, and their backyard was amazing. It makes me want to have a professionally landscaped yard one day. For lunch we had homemade bread with butter, roast and veggies, cuke salad and tomato salad; and there was homemade ice cream and home cooked peaches for dessert. Wow. When it got down to supper time she pulled out some chili she’d made the night before and we had that with salad and more bread. One thing that cracked me up was when I mentioned that we started out doing Saxon math with Max Dr Arnold said he knew him!! He didn’t speak too highly of him personally. Said he often was drunk and once while teaching he’d gotten his foot stuck in a garbage can, and then proceeded to walk around the classroom like that the rest of the class! Klassy!

Another thing that cracked me up…when we told them the story of how we eloped, and that we drove to CO for our 1st honeymoon, she sided with Mrs. Norma that we should’ve visited her and her family! It still amazes me that people think this is a reasonable idea.

26 September Tuesday

Today after school we got to see Mrs. Norma. It was sweet. She looks exactly the same, only shrunken 10%. She sounds the same, even. It’s funny what you forget about a person, but recognize again when you’re with them. We went out to Cheddar’s for supper…it’s her favorite spot. I sat next to Teresa and we got on famously. I think if we lived nearby we’d be fast friends. I’d told her on Sunday about Mrs. Norma’s way of giving a restaurant (any restaurant but Luby’s) the X, and she said that Cheddar’s was Mrs. Norma’s favorite place, and that she often gets the hamburger, and that she didn’t know about the X. Well, tonight Mrs. Norma ordered her burger well done (I don’t know if that’s how she always gets it), and then she complained that it was tough. Teresa silently looked at me and made an X on the table! I laughed so hard. Maybe Tj and I bring it out in her if she’s never had a problem with the burgers before? Jack and I had the cheese dip and it was awesome.

Branson, and going to Colorado

Thursday, October 5th, 2017

4 September Monday

I cut my hair today, and it went ok. Hopefully I’ve remembered to check everything.

5 September Tuesday

I washed our swimsuits today…I think we’re officially done with swimming. The weather’s been in the mid-80’s for a couple of days and when we left this morning I really wanted a long sleeve!

Today was a crazy school day…Monarch was having major trouble. After struggling a little bit I decided we could do school Saturday and we should go to Silver Dollar City today!! What an adventure! We got our stuff together and pulled away, and then I thought about checking their hours. They’re closed today! Wah!

Since Monarch still wasn’t loading we went with our second errand and went to get my school log laminated and bound. We stopped at the grocery store across the street from the office store and went in for just cokes, and walked out with $70 of cokes, cheese and meats. Wow.

We managed to do most of our school today, and I had time for a snooze, too.

6 September Wednesday

Well, I didn’t check everything the other day, and I can tell that my hair is a tad longer on one side than the other. Before my shower I tried to trim the long side just a bit, and of course I jacked it up. I asked Max to help me fix it. I told him he couldn’t mess it up. I’d already messed it up and all he had to do was cut a straight line. It was angled down towards my chin a bit, and if he just cut the front straight the length of the back we should be good. I showed him how to comb the wet hair down, then hold the hair and cut it under his fingers. Then when he actually cut it it was so much hair! I told him he didn’t mess it up, but to give me the scissors and I went to the back and trimmed the rest. Heh. What a debacle!! He also said my hair felt like bacon. Not a compliment. I think it was the conditioner. Anyway, I managed to get it livable. Later I called Mom and made sure she’ll help me cut it myself when we’re there.

Jack is beginning to understand same/different. Finally. I remember all of those mornings putting up dishes in the house in Cabot and trying to explain same/different with the dishes. Part of the problem is they could be the same size but different colors, there are so many parts to same different, it’s hard to know where to start. The problem we’re having now is that I’m using the same and different sheets to also teach 1st 2nd 3rd last Etc. So when I ask him which row is last he wants to point and say this object is different. So the fundamental problem is he doesn’t pay attention to what I’m asking, he just does what he thinks I want based on what I wanted in the past. This is a long-standing problem. Another thing he often does is talks over anyone, I think he just lives in his own world. It’s going to take a long time to get him out us.

7 September Thursday

Monarch was still a little slow, but Max finished at 2:30. We went thrifting and found a set of Star Wars phonics books and Oh/pig for Jack, and a green upwards shirt for Max just like the one Jack already has.

After grocery shopping at WM Max spontaniously thanked me/us for buying him legos and giving him money to buy more, so I told him this morning that I had decided to not take him out to eat, but because of that now he could go out to eat but not get a coke. He really needs to work on being grateful.

Max said as we were getting ready for bed, I’m completely different now. Before my computer time was cut completely off all I wanted to do was minecraft or other computer things. Now all I want to do is Legos, or read, and I think I enjoy reading more. Nice!! I like this life more too, honestly. I think these things are a more creative outlet than Minecraft, though that has some creativity involved for sure.

8 September Friday

We saw a couple with a couple of dogs playing in front of the bus today. I asked Jack who is throwing the frisbee? He said dog. I said no, who’s throwing the frisbee? He said dog, again. I said the dog caught the frisbee, who threw it? Nothing. I said did I throw it? He said no. I said did you throw it? He said no. Who threw it? He said dog again. Ugh. I told him the man threw it. We talked about other dog stuff for a couple of seconds and I asked him again who threw the frisbee and he said dog again. It’s funny what he can’t understand or word correctly sometimes. I asked him how the dog caught the frisbee. He didn’t know what to say. I asked if the dog caught the frisbee with his hands and he said yes. Then I told him the dog caught the frisbee with his mouth.

We went to Pickn Porch grill for lunch for the last time. The pulled pork fries are my favorite! It’s a bit of seasoned fries with cheese, BBQ beans, pulled pork, green onions and barbecue sauce on top. They serve it with sour cream and jalapenos on the side. I don’t even eat any sour cream because what’s already there is just so awesome! From there we headed to Silver Dollar City, and played till we closed the place down!

For supper Max asked for cinnamon toast, so I made Pioneer Woman’s recipe. That stuff is just awesome!


9 September Saturday

We had the rest of the cinnamon toast for breakfast, and then lazed around all day. Max had 2 units of school left to do, but he got this done really quickly. Jack and I played Play-Doh for a while. At one point he also just said, “I’m finished, do you want it Mom?”

I went for a walk and my second time around Max asked me why I had two pair of sunglasses on?! Heh, I didn’t realize I did. Old age.

10 September Sunday

I was clipping Jack’s fingernails and he said, “When I finish with my last toenail I’ll put it (the paper plate I was cutting onto) in the garbage can!” It’s so awesome to hear whole sentences come out of his mouth that are understandable and relevant to the current goings on.

11 September Monday

Max asked if we could do school outside, and I was excited to use my new pretty sheet I got off of Amazon for the first time as a picnic blanket. We hauled all our stuff out there, and after the boys took a pixie-stick and swing break we did more school outside. But honestly that didn’t last long. Sitting on the ground just isn’t ever comfortable for a long time without a lot of pillows. We were probably out there only about an hour or so and we hauled it back in. Heh.

Monarch is still acting up a bit, so school lasted a little longer today than usual. This year, so far, we start around 9:20 and finish a little after 1pm with a few 15-minute breaks for swinging or jumping or dancing. Max and I sat down Saturday and looked over his week to even out his days; I think we’ll be doing that every week. It’s making the week go smoother for sure. I’m also watching Max on the iPad off and on all school day, grading as I can, and keeping on top of his school. I try to get Jack to finish up around the same time as Max, and then we usually eat lunch after school.

12 September Tuesday

This morning Max and I were talking and I misunderstood him. I asked him who this we was he was talking about…he should’ve done something alone. He said I am Legion…we are many!!!!!

Jack and I drove 30 minutes away and came back with a sleep number bed!!! I pray it’s super comfortable, and that I didn’t waste our money!! I decided to put this matress on top of the camper matress and the foam topper to check it out for a couple of days, but boy is it tall! No more sitting on the bed to work on the computer!

At lunch Jack said very slowly, “I want to be finished with my cole slaw please Mama.”

After lunch at Danna’s Max asked to go thrifting…he wants to look at cross necklaces. I was telling him that I didn’t like necklaces/earrings/bracelets on boys, and we were bantering back and forth, and I said if he got one I’d rip it off and shove it in his ear and he said oh, good, then I’d have an earring! The sass is strong with this kid!!!!

Man, one of the hardest things as a mother is to pay attention to everything that needs to be done right now. Or to learn how to tell some things/people to just wait. I’m doing school with Jack, and helping Max as well, and sometimes Tj will text me at the same time, or I’ll try to jot down something funny the kids have said so I don’t forget…my poor head can’t handle all that all at once!!! Often I let the stress of the moment get to me…but I’m trying hard to tell Max (or Jack) to wait while I finish one thing. I have a bad habit of just ignoring Jack (but not very efficiently) and trying to work with Max. I need to get better at making Jack be quiet when others are talking.

14 September Thursday

This morning during Jack’s school there were three cards with sentences. Sam builds the tower high. Sam builds the tower higher. Sam builds the tower highest. I told Jack a few examples, we can also say tall, taller, tallest. We can also say short, shorter, shortest. And after maybe one more example he said small, smaller, smallest! And then he gave one more example! I couldn’t believe it! He’s really getting this!

I used Flonase today. I’m starting to sneeze a bit more lately, so hopefully this will help out.

We hurriedly finished school and scarfed down lunch and headed over to the doctor’s office. This is our first appointment in a year! I’m a little worried that even though I’ve told them exactly what I want (to walk out with 6 prescriptions) they’ll say that’s not possible because this first office visit is just to establish care. I’m trying to give this worry over to God and let it go.

After the appointment we went to a couple of thrift stores and scored Halloween costumes for the boys (Pizza Steve for Jack and a Jedi robe for Max), and a beautiful limoge box with drawers the cashier told me was from a wealthy Korean exchange student.

We went to Chic-fil-a to play on the playground for a bit, and to wait for Tj’s plane. He finally contacted me saying he was leaving. The boys and I headed out to pick him up, and of course 15 minutes before we get there Max asked me if we were going to the airport or the FedEx terminal. Doh!!!! Sometimes I amaze myself. I’d spent so much time trying to figure out when to arrive I hadn’t paid attention to the fact that he was coming in comerically.

15 September Friday

We had a horrible nights sleep! The matress arrangement we used is just meant to be temporary, and it’s a good thing. We have the foam topper on top, then the sleep number, then the old rv matress. I fell to the middle all night! I’m really praying that once we move the RV mattress out it’ll make all the difference, otherwise I just wasted our money!!

Tj put Jack in our bed sometime in the middle of the night while he went to the couch to play on the computer…he’s super jet-lagged. He fell asleep and slept til about 9:45. After a bit of snuggling we started school; I made breakfast for the boys and had Max do school while he ate breakfast.

We met Alan and Dawn for lunch at IHOP. Max had finished his 4 school lessons and made 100% on all of them! TJ let him have a Coke at home for that ๐Ÿ™‚ We had a great visit with Alan and Dawn, and only left when the boys got restless. We debated what to do next to keep Tj awake and get him back on our schedule. After looking online we saw that Silver Dollar City was having a military promotion so TJ got in free! He and I rode a few rides, then I took Jack to the ball room while TJ and Max rode some rides. We met back up for another ride with all 4 of us, then I went off on my own to see the handicrafts while the boys hung out together till close.

As Tj was getting his ticket I took Jack to the bathroom. He and I each got our own stalls right next to each other. When I was finishing up I heard him counting, “1, 2, 3, 4, 5 poops!!!!!!” he exclaimed with so much excitement! Then he counted 4 poops, then 6, then 5 again…so I’m not sure how many there actually were, but it sounds like the boy needs more water.

We looked online and found a good place for ice cream for supper. Then we browsed Dicks 5 & 10, and then went home and went to bed.

16 September Saturday

Today’s our anniversary! We had a little bit of work to do for our move tomorrow, and then we left instructions for the boys and we went out to lunch. We went to Coulee’s and had another awesome steak. We met the people we bought the bed from and got the manual from them.

After lunch we dropped off our old mattress at Goodwill, and then bought groceries (and a new set of Legos for Max, with his money).

We had an uneventful afternoon at home, and then decided to go out again for supper. I fixed supper for the boys and we headed out to a diner where I had cobbler a la mode, and Tj had a cheeseburger and then ice cream. We looked around in a nearby leather store since it was there. I had been wondering if we got Tj a nice leather belt if it would last longer, and Tj saw one in this store that would work, but it didn’t have any holes punched. When we told the lady about it she got it ready to punch, but couldn’t find her red pen to mark it. After watching her fumble around for a bit we left…I think her thinking was a bit impaired, if you know what I mean.

17 September Sunday

We left Ozark Country Campground after getting a new tank of propane there. The guy said that we were really empty, I guess a full day of releasing propane into the bus will do that to you! Fortunately the drive was fine, and we planned to stop at the same Denny’s we stopped at on the way in. So we had a really late lunch, and therefore weren’t hungry for the ribs we planned to make for supper. We walked around the campground a little bit after setting up, but came in because of the mosquitoes. TJ and Max cleaned out the water heater again since it seems like it’s been leaking still. We had Smorgasbord for supper, and watched a creation video for church.

18 September Monday

Slough Creek Corps of Engineer park was fine. Many of the sites were fairly unlevel and completely gravel, and we considered asking for a different site. But our site was long enough that we were able to back into the part that was level enough. We used three blocks under each front tire and then the bus was perfectly level. The area was beautiful, lots of green grass and many trees. We walked down to the water and skipped stones for a while, that was fun. The website said there was a playground near our site, and that’s why we picked that site, but it was completely gone.

This morning was rainy and drizzly. Nasty to hook up/drive in. Fortunately it wasn’t a downpour. As we were getting the inside ready to drive we saw our neighbors across the street had a tow truck there. Ugh, poor people. They were out in the rain talking to the tow people a good bit. We decided to bring them some cookies and a verse to cheer them up. We couldn’t find a good verse…didn’t want it to be preachy. Tj finally came up with the one about may the Lord bless and keep you.

We got everything ready and I pulled the bus through a right and then left turn to flat ground for Tj to hook it up to the truck. It wasn’t bad at all driving it, I just had to pull it farther out into the intersection to turn than a regular sized car. After we were set and the 3-minute timer was running I ran back to the neighbors and gave them the cookies. I told the guy that it looked like he was having a bad day and needed some encouragement. He said it was his wife’s birthday, and thanked me for the cookies. I hope their day gets better!

We drove for a while in the rain…which reminds me that with all our driving this might be the 3rd or 4th time driving the bus in the rain. We’ve been pretty blessed with great traveling weather.

Tj had been saying maybe we’d drive tomorrow, maybe not. I kept saying didn’t we already decide to take tomorrow off? When we pulled up to the campground I realized why he said that. There’s nothing here really, except gravel lots. I was chuckling internally but didn’t say anything, thinking that he was right, and then he walked right up to the counter and asked to stay a second night!!! Heh.

The lady said the nearby restaurant had high reviews for their food, and wouldn’t be open the next day, so we decided to have supper there. The ribs we bought will wait another day ๐Ÿ™‚ We started off with a Caesar salad, crab cakes and ahi tuna. When we needed just a little more we got the Kobe burger. It was strongly suggested that we get it medium rare, which we did. Tj got half, and I and the boys each got 1/6. Jack was acting like a punk by this point so we gave his part to Max. This thing was dripping with blood, but boy was it good!! Max was completely in love with it. Everything else was awesome, too, but that capped the night off nicely.

19 September Tuesday

We got up on time and started school. Tj had work to do, but started the ribs cooking for lunch. The instant pot is giving us more trouble…after looking online I wonder if I just need to clean the valves better? It did cook the ribs well, it just took longer and several starts to get it up to pressure.

We weren’t sure if there would be anything to do around here…it’s just a bunch of flat, open land that you can see for miles! Then Tj found some beautiful rocks to go see. Monument Rocks. We drove 45 minutes out there and it was well worth it. The wind was crazy when you stepped out of the car! It whipped my hair around so much. There was a little museum we went into, nothing much. I was tempted to buy some petrified wood which was reasonably priced, but living in the bus I have to reign in my impulses.

We stopped by a playground we saw filled with kids and the boys played while Tj and I walked around the park. Then we stopped at the Buffalo Bill monument and took pictures of the boys.

We had smorgasbord for supper and put the boys to bed…they need more sleep after all this driving!

20 September Wednesday

High Plains Camping was perfectly level on gravel. There’s nothing here for the kids, but there was a seafood (!!!) place we walked to for supper. It was close to the highway so we heard some road noise but it was never bothersome. The worst thing was that there were stickers all over the place…those little round things that cling to everything and hurt like the dickens! Oh, and the office had lots of videos to borrow, some books and magazines to trade.

As we were driving today we started hearing a thumping sound. It seemed to be coming from outside of the bus near me. I peered into the side mirror and saw a black thing extending from the awning support, and it was vibrating. I kept checking it, and kept trying to figure out what it was, and then I began thinking that it might be sliding down. I was just about to tell Tj it might be working itself down, and then poof! it was gone! It was another few miles before he found a spot wide enough for us to pull over (we were not on a divided highway, and the shoulder was probably as wide as the bus so he didn’t want to pull over onto it). We didn’t find out until after we were stopped for the night and cautiously put out the awning bit by bit that it’s an internal cover for the wiring inside the awning bracket. It’s always an adventure!

Branson, Mo

Monday, September 4th, 2017

When we play Marco Polo in the pool Jack says “Marco Buffalo.” Sometimes he says “Marco’s Pizza” which at least makes sense. Heh.

27 July Thursday

We went out to eat for lunch today. There’s a little cafe where I ordered a reuben, a muffaletta and a Greek plate. I knew they couldn’t do everything well, and the reuben was disappointing, but the Greek plate was great. Jack called the dolma poop. Heh.

30 July Sunday

We were all in bed for the night; Tj and I were watching Designated Survivor, when Max came to the back and said someone was at the door! I got it and it was the boy from next door inviting our boys over for smores! Max went for half an hour or so, and came back with a smore for Tj and me! They said they would invite us over tomorrow night as well…they want Jack to come over. Nice.

31 July Monday

We were lazy all day today. We had chicken and spaghetti for lunch at 1:30.

TJ worked on the computer, the boys went outside and I made cinnamon rolls. They were awesome again!

Jack mistakenly put on Tjs underwear as a shirt tonight! He couldn’t figure out how to get his arms right, and it took me a couple of seconds to realize it wasn’t his shirt. Heh

3 August Thursday

When we’re making ice Jack always asks for “a piece of mice.” Heh

4 August Friday

We went to Silver Dollar City today. Max goes off by himself to ride whatever he wants and Jack and I go to the ball room. There are a ton of foam balls there, along with a vacuum and a cannon and other toys. It’s heaven for Jack, and I get to read so it’s heaven for me, too. I sit on the floor at the only exit, but Jack is learning to not leave me and wander away on his own.

5 August Saturday

Max pulled another tooth! In the WM parking lot!!! It was a molar.

I asked Jack if he wanted to watch a dog movie and he said, “No ma’am, sorry. Not dog movie.”

7 August Monday

Amy and her boys came to visit today!!!!!! They got here around 11am, and boy were we all excited to see them! I’m so excited they wanted to come and this whole thing worked out.

I made mac and cheese for lunch with salad as a side. The boys swam and then showered in the bath house.

Supper was Pickin’ Porch Grill where I had the pulled pork french fries. Amy and Adam shared the Hawaiian burger; Adam loved it but she pulled off the giant piece of pineapple. Max got the fried green tomato BLT and loved it. Jack got chicken strips, but he should’ve just had half of my fries! We ended up taking the rest home and Tj ate them a week later.

We drove to the boardwalk and walked around a bit. Stopped in at Bass Pro Shop for mosquito spray…I think I’ve learned my lesson here the first night with Jack’s poor legs. We watched the lights/fountain/flames as they played music at the landing. We browsed through several stores and Amy helped me find some shoes. When I was getting cash at a nearby ATM a clown was there talking to people. He said he would try to guess my pin, and said it was 4 digits. Then he made me laugh when he told the story of how one time he’d guessed a woman’s pin!! She was not amused.

When it was bedtime Adam and Caleb slept on the blow up bed on the pull-out couch. Max and Jack slept on the dinette bed, and Dan offered to sleep on the floor…Amy says he always offers to do that because he hates sleeping with anyone else.

8 August Tuesday

Max pulled a third tooth sometime last night or this morning (and threw it at the other boys). Kids!

Well, the boys got along so well yesterday, I guess I shouldn’t have expected it to last forever. They started almost snipping at each other a bit as Adam and I were picking up their beds so I said they should get their shoes on and go run around the park. Caleb said that sounds like a good idea, so I told him great, get your shoes on and go. He suddenly started backpeddling. I told him again, and then one more time in a serious tone to go. When he continued to resist me I called to Amy (who’d just gotten out of the shower) and said I thought the boys should go outside while I made breakfast, and she readily agreed. She asked if there was a problem and I said no, and told her what happened. And then all the boys went out and I got our cinnamon rolls ready for breakfast. We had rolls and muesli bread with butter. I packaged up 2 rolls for Amy to take home to share with John.

After we all got ready we headed out to Ripley’s Believe It or Not. Tj and I had decided that even though Max has really been wanting to go, they’re all over the country, and since we’re spending so much money on the season tickets we wouldn’t go here. Of course all that went out the window the moment Amy said they were going ๐Ÿ™‚ Jack got in free, and Max and I got a military discount, so that’s something.

Last night Adam was talking about wanting to try bubble tea, so we looked around for some. Amy found a place so we headed there next. I don’t think any of us were impressed with the bubbles, but it was fun for one time.

We went to Wal-Mart to pick up a few things for supper, then home, and I made sandwiches for lunch.

The boys swam a bit more, and just as Amy offered to take Max for the week until we drive down there the fighting between Max and Caleb began in earnest. There were several little spats while they were in the pool. Those two are just too much alike! Caleb won’t leave Max alone…he follows him around and pesters him about everything. And Max is just as bad. I suggested that they play Marco Polo and Caleb immediately said Jack should be it, then Max said Caleb should be it. Caleb said Jack again, and Max said Caleb again. I made Max sit out of the pool for a while, and I told him to stop picking on Caleb. After a few minutes I let him get back in, and before his butt cleared the seat he said the same thing again!!! He never learns! I made him sit again.

When the boys were showered and changed we all did crafts. Amy and I burned designs into wooden spoons, some boys played legos and some played with air-dry clay, and Adam colored a shirt.

I made nachos for supper, and we all had ice cream again. While we were finishing up supper Max started packing to go to Amy’s. If she’s foolish enough to keep her invitation to let Max stay with her a few nights, I’m eager enough to take her up on it!

It was so quiet when she left. 5 boys and 2 girls make a lot of noise in our little bus. I set Jack up with a movie in the back and I cleaned the whole bus while talking to Tj on the phone.

9 August Wednesday

Jack and I went thrifting and I found a big wooden cutting board to burn designs on! Now I have to figure out what to draw on it.

We went to Chic-fil-a for lunch so Jack could play on the playground. When we got back in the truck my left wrist hurt so bad! I have no idea what I’ve done to injure it. It’s really difficult to drive, though, since I’ve mostly been driving with my left hand for the last 2 years to help my right wrist heal. Old age!!

We stopped at a leather store that turned into a strip mall type of store. While tooling around in there Jack almost touched an elaborate embrodriy machine! I’m glad I saw him before he did.

10 August Thursday

I really like fried chicken, and was craving some. We headed downtown to a place with good reviews. As I ate I thought the chef must’ve forgotten to season the chicken and the mashed potatoes with gravy. I hemmed and hawed, and finally mentioned it as I was paying for our meal. The cashier casually said that they never put salt on any of their food because the old people don’t like it!!!! How do you have a salt-free restaurant without telling anyone??!!

When we got back home I burned the wooden lid for the ceramic bowl I bought at Target for Amy. Tj came home around supper time.

11 August Friday

We drove to Cabot today. The weather was dreary all the way, and it was raining when we got to the Mean Pig. That food was just as good as always, though!

After visiting with our friends who were there for a bake sale we went back to the hotel for nap; Amy took Max to a swim party. When we got up we shopped at Kroger for stuff to make ribs at Jen’s house, and then headed over there. What a fun time we always have with our friends! We’re so blessed to know such awesome people.

12 August Saturday

We had breakfast in the hotel, and then Hooper picked up Max and Tj for shooting. Jack and I went to Goodwill but found nothing!

We had lunch at Colton’s with Sara Lu and the guys, and then went back to hotel for a nap.

We had supper at David’s Burgers with the Huffs, then went to a park, and then to their house and played Phase 10 till 11pm.

13 August Sunday

It was so much fun to go to our church today and see all our friends. Hoop let us use his office for an informal life group.

We went to Larry’s Pizza for lunch with a big group. That place is always so crowded, but has great pizza, especially the dessert pizza!

Tonight Jack was in the bath playing with a cup and he said, “Where cup is, Mom?” One day he’ll talk like us!

14 August Monday

We drove home today, and made several stops at thrift stores along the way. I never found anything at the thrift stores, but we bought some jalapeno jelly and some chow chow. Now I need to make some beans!

18 August Friday

I finally made Tj’s birthday cake…a cookie cake. He found a recipe he wanted me to try and it turned out great! I shared a bit of it with the office after he left for work.

This afternoon we went to see Moses with the Jones. Afterwards we went out to eat at a seafood restaurant, and then we walked along the boardwalk. I finally found a ‘tapestry’ like the girl had at White Sands. Tj got new shoes and Max got light up shoes.

19 August Saturday

Today we went to the Dixie Stampede with Jones and then had ice cream. Dixie Stampede is so much better than any other dinner show we’ve seen. I love it! All the trick horse riding is amazing to me. There was a girl who stood with each foot on a separate horse as they ran around the oval ring, and sometimes she would jump down and run alongside a horse and then jump back on all while it was running. There were also buffalo, and dog tricks, and even some human tricks. All in all it’s a really fun thing to do.

20 August Sunday

Jack buttoned all his shirt buttons with no help, and in a reasonable time frame!!! What an achievement! At church he also said his memory verse and got a soccer ball. He’s over the moon! His verse was For by Grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, Ephesians 2:8 The only thing he ‘messed up’ on is he says ‘you’ve been saved’. That’s hardly a problem I think.

After church Tj left for work. I worked more on my cutting board, it’s almost finished now…I’m burning mandalas on the front face. I also started trying to learn Tai Chi, but that’s hard in the tight space.

Jack’s eye is a little pink, but I’m really hoping it’s not pinkeye. He has a little clear drainage from his nose, but he doesn’t scratch his eye. Time will tell.

21 August Monday

Today was the eclipse. We bought some paper glasses earlier this year so we were ready. Since Tj is in Memphis I decided to keep Jack in the bus. I’m sure he won’t be careful to not look outside of his glasses. The Jones decided to come over to watch it with us. It’s always better to do stuff with friends.

Seeing the eclipse at around 98% was cool, but Cabot will be in totality in 7 years for the next full eclipse and Jenn said we could go to her house to see it then ๐Ÿ™‚ I hope we all remember! Max just about started crying this morning that I wouldn’t drive us 2.5 hours away to be in totality…he said it might be his only time to see a total eclipse. Drama!!

After the eclipse we all visited in the bus for a bit, then JP took Max, Anna, and Rebecca to ride the mountain coaster nearby. After that we all went to their condo to swim since Jennifer still had some packing to do.

22 August Tuesday

Today we started school. By which I mean we woke up with an alarm for the first non-Sunday in forever, and I opened Monarch for the first time. The new rule is that Max will make both of the boys’ breakfasts every morning, so he did that while Jack helped him and I tried to set up Monarch.

We took all day for school since it was also our first planning day. I do love Monarch for this. There are definitely negatives about going with this curriculum, but the scheduling and the grading aspects are awesome!

The other day Jack was in the bathroom and we heard a loud bird right outside the bus. Then Jack yelled out “Bee-up” mocking the bird!!! It cracked all of us up.

24 August Thursday

Jack just said “Where is the brown (color)? I don’t see it.” What a full thought!!

Despite taking the whole summer off (16 weeks!!) Jack has come back with more skill than when we stopped. He did a follow the directions page completely on his own, and followed every direction. He never did that throughout the whole school year last year. He would start off pretty good but always ended up changing the directions or not following the directions or just coloring the whole page no matter what the directions said. He also seems to be reading a little more fluently, although he really doesn’t seem to have any more comprehension this year than last year. I know that will come, but who knows when. He also seems to be doing better with addition, and is more flexible when talking about what number is this, and what number comes after. It’s only the third day, but I’m hopeful. Last year he would get really annoyed/angry when he got a problem wrong, but we’re working on don’t fuss, just fix it.

25 August Friday

Jack prayed “I want different playground please Mom. Okay Jackster!”

There was a back to school bash hosted by the church that Max went to tonight. Jack and I dropped him off at 4:30, and when we got home Tj was home from work.

26 August Saturday

We went to Silver Dollar City but the crowds were crazy large so we looked around for a playground. The first one we found was closed. The second one had a little girl who wouldn’t let her little sister play with Jack, but was fine with Max. Whatever. It seemed to be more you can’t play with Jack because you want to, but you don’t want to play with Max so that’s ok, than anything having to do with DS. We went to Culver’s for lunch…butter burgers and fried cheese curds. Then to WM, then home.

We kept smelling boiled eggs all day. It took forever to figure out it’s the bus battery needing water.

For supper I made a smorgasbord on my new cutting board. It’s so pretty! We watched two episodes of Lost during supper, and Jack watched Home in the back; it’s his new favorite movie.

27 August Sunday

Jack got another prize for saying his memory verse…hockey sticks. He had a different teacher this morning. She said if he says another verse of our choosing next week he can pick another prize! We’ll work on the verse Max is learning now for school, Romans 8:28.

We took a nap, but Tj didn’t nap long. He went to play Legos with Max.

When I got up I gave the boys haircuts and then we all went swimming. We had a smorgasbord again for supper.

28 August Monday

We went to the Keeter Center today for lunch. I think the whole idea of this college is pretty cool…the kids there work their way through at the college and end up with a degree and no debt. Everyone in the food industry works through all the aspects from serving to planning to making. We supported them very well ๐Ÿ™‚

Jack told me at lunch, “Black in your face.” I’m pretty sure the translation is “put that spoonful of brownie in your mouth, not mine, Mom.” But it sounds funnier his way.

Before we got around to touring the whole school the Bundys texted us and asked to meet us. That was a great reason to cut our tour short. We got back to the bus as they arrived and had a great visit with them.

29 August Tuesday

Today we went back to the Keeter Center and toured the mill where we got to see someone weaving a basket and someone else weaving coasters. We also toured the kitchen and saw tons of fruitcake for sale. We sampled them and they were pretty good. We bought some funnel cake mixture and orange marmalade.

On the way back home we stopped by Table Rock Lake and hiked around a bit.

1 September Friday

Jack and his lack of versus too much understanding. It’s killing me. Yesterday I told him to go to the playground. I made sure to tell him when he was finished with the playground and the swing set to come straight home. He took off all by himself and went right past the playground. He had seen a dog, so he went to pet the dog. I let that slide as he quickly went on to the swingset, but then he went to the picnic area. I walked back outside and said Jack, I told you to only go to the playground. He said playground excitedly. I said I didn’t tell you to go pet the dog. He said thank you mama, dog! I talked for another couple of minutes, but I know he doesn’t understand what I’m trying to get across. Then this morning Max asked me where the old mayonnaise was, and after a few minutes it seems evident that when we brought the groceries in last night Jack threw away the old bottle of mayonnaise which had enough mayonnaise for two more sandwiches, and put the new bottle in the fridge. He wants to be a helper, and he has some common sense, but other things he just has no clue about no matter how many times I explain them to him.

The other day Max said a spoonful of peanut butter is my solution to everything. Heh. Like Mom and the running your finger under water.

1 September Friday

With the last two days of school not being great, I’m desperate for a great school day today.

It’s been ok. Jack has worked with me a little more than yesterday, and Max isn’t daydreaming as much. I started smelling something not long after starting a load of wash. We’ve never had smell problems with the washer, and Tj actually ran the cleaning cycle not too long ago. I just got out of the shower and didn’t notice the water smelling, though I thought I smelled it near the kitchen sink. Max and I looked for a bit, and then I set up the diffuser and got to work on school.

When we got close to lunch time I started thinking about fried chicken. I decided we’d go out to eat instead of me cooking like I had planned, so I pushed Max to finish up. He finished and we left around 1pm. I turned both the a/c units on and figured with them cycling the air the smell might be gone by the time we got back.

After we ate at the Great American Steak and Chicken place, which had great fried chicken, Max wanted to go to Tanger right next door. I saw this as a great opportunity to do a lot of walking, so we went. I actually ended up buying 2 pair of shoes, but had to go to the Landing to exchange one of them for the correct size. After all that we headed home around 5:30.

I was so disappointed to find the smell was just as strong as when we left! Jack wanted to swing so I sent him out and got to work tracking down the smell. I had Max open all the windows and we both sniffed everything we could. I’ve been needing to clean the a/c filters so I took those outside to brush them off, and would periodically stop when I thought of something else to smell. I smelled the front and house batteries, the sewers, up under the bus front and back, and even climbed on top and smelled the a/c units. There was nothing specific, but the front a/c unit seemed to smell more, and outside Tj’s window also seemed to be more potent. I decided we’d take everything out of the front of the bus and smell each thing. Nothing. Then I just started opening every cabinet with food, and after only the 2nd one God brought my eyes to the stove…a burner was on!!!!! We’d been pumping propane into the bus all day!!!!! If I’d cooked lunch there the whole bus would have exploded! I’m so thankful God kept us safe. I can’t believe it was the stove! I’ve checked it off an on while we’ve been here, just randomly thinking about it, but this is the first time we’ve had a problem. I think Jack must’ve turned it on.

2 September Saturday

Grrr….I just went to get Jack’s swimsuit and I see that he put our swimsuits in the bucket where we keep them, but they weren’t dry yet!! I haven’t swam in several days! This boy is helping me to death!

3 September Sunday

Jack said his verse today, but the teacher (who’s a bit stern, but that is just what Jack needs) said they only do 1 prize a month. I didn’t think about it till I’d left that this is the first Sunday in this month. Oh well, he’s already gotten 2 toys so we’ll let this one go.

And I can’t remember if I’ve already blogged about this, but it cracks me up that the security door they have for Jack’s age locks from his side. The funny part is that when I’ve told people there that he’s a wanderer they assure me that everything’s ok, they have a security door. But it only keeps ‘bad guys’ from getting in…Jack can open it and walk out with no problem. Heh.

Rapid City and Branson

Sunday, July 30th, 2017

Did I ever write about the truck skidding? I don’t remember. We had hooked the truck up to the bus and moved it a bit, but stopped it for some reason. Tj asked me to check everything, and when he started driving I yelled Stop Stop Stop! because the truck was skidding! At some point we’d put the truck in park and forgotten to put it back in neutral! Sometimes I think we’re not mature enough for this life. ๐Ÿ™‚

1 July Saturday

I’d heard that there was a little town fair today, and I really wanted to go because there was a demolition derby!! I had just said to Tj a few weeks ago that I’d never been to one and would like to go. Here’s my chance! So we went to the Box Elder Bash. There was a discount if you brought canned goods so we showed up with 3 cans of veggies. I wasn’t planning on going to the parade, but they were late so as we walked to the Bash we stopped for the parade. I never thought about them throwing candy, so that was a fun bonus. There were motorcycles, alpacas, police, fire trucks and all sorts of other things.

Once inside the Bash grounds the boys jumped on jumpy castles for a bit, then we went to the magic show. Afterwards there was a fireman tug of war. They’d extended the ladders on two firetrucks and tied a cable between them and hung a barrel on the cable. Two competing sets of firemen used their hoses to push it to the ladder.

We were so hot by this time that we walked back to the truck to get our bottles of water, and then it was time for the demolition derby. That was so much fun!!! I would love to drive a car around and crash it like that, but I’m sure I’d feel it the next 5 days! Those guys have to be so sore! I’m such an old lady ๐Ÿ™‚ We sat behind a woman who’d driven in a derby several times. It was neat to be able to ask her questions about why they were doing certain things. About a quarter of the way through her kid spilled a large cup of lemonade down my leg! All that ice felt great, but my shoe stuck to the bleachers after that.

When we got home we took our showers and had sausage sandwiches for supper.

That night we saw great fireworks from just outside our camper. The boys were all ready for bed except that Jack’s bed wasn’t put together. After a while Jack said he wanted to go inside so I told him to go ahead. I didn’t give him any instructions, just watched him go in the bus. When I came in about 5 minutes later Jack has hung up his jacket, and was making his bed! Sometimes he’s pretty amazing. When his bed was made we watched more fireworks from the comfort of Max’s bed ๐Ÿ™‚ (Up until this point me asking him to hang up his jacket has usually produced fussing so this was a nice change.)

2 July Sunday

Jack said let me try after we saw someone get baptized.

3 July Monday

As he was waking up Jack said “Basketball head in X, mom, disco ball in gym.” I think he’s remembering the gym at church in Cabot.

Amazon said Jack’s ID bracelet was delivered, so at 10 a.m. I decided to go see if the BITC office was open. I didn’t think it would be but I hate to have to wait another two days if it is if I don’t have to. I fixed Jack a fried egg sandwich on the way out the door because I knew my errand trips often run longer than expected. I figured we’d also go by the youth center to see if we could sign Max up for the lock-in, and see if the post office was open so we could find out an address to have our stuff shipped. BITC was closed, and so was the youth center, but the post office was open. One out of three is better than none out of three I guess.

After our errands we found a huge playground so we stopped for the boys to play. We had seen some deer up close at the BITC, and we saw more here at the playground. Tj said I should send pics to the Hoop so I did.

About this time TJ told me there was a family on our Fulltime Facebook group here in Rapid City and they were looking for a meet up. I got in touch with Jill, the mom, and we planned to meet at Storybook Island. I’ve been meaning to go, just hadn’t found the time to do that yet. We ran home to throw a few things in a picnic bag and hit the road, but then I discovered that Jack had wet his pants on the way! It’s been a long time since he’s had this much pee, and it was super discouraging.

While we were pulling into the campground I told Max fill up the two frozen bottles with water, fill my cup with ice and then pour water in it while I cleaned up Jack and packed a lunch bag. Somehow he could only get two of those things right. It was even more frustrating on top of Jack’s mess. We finally got our act together and headed out to Storybook Island. Jill and Tony were really nice people, and the boys had fun playing with their kids. We walked around for an hour and a half or so and just chatted about this crazy life style.

When we finished there it was too late to go home to eat, but I didn’t feel like fixing food in the truck either, so I just handed out some slices of ham and we went to Philly Ted’s and picked up some chili cheese fries. We went straight home from there, rounded out our meal, and then Jack and I headed to the back for a nap. Max played outside with Legos while we slept. I woke Jack up after an hour and a half and we headed outside.

The boys watched Odd Squad for an hour, and then we all got on our bikes. Jack threw a fit at having to ride the halfbike, but I think he just needs some good solid sleep, maybe several days of naps will do. Especially since it’s so close to the 4th it’s hard to go to sleep when all those fireworks are going off. We rode our bikes to the commissary, and when I looked it up on Google one way is .9 miles! Afterwards I made Jack ride his two-wheel bike around the circle 7 times. While we were riding a girl named Cadence rode her bike with us. After Jack had ridden his two-wheel bike enough times he put it up and got out his trike and he and Cadence rode around a good bit. Later on Cadence came back and played Legos with Max till about 9:30.

The boys came in, showered, ate a late supper and got ready for bed. I finished putting the trim back on Max’s cork board for his Legos. Now we’re all in bed and I’m enjoying some alone time.

4 July Tuesday

I cut my hair again for the 3rd time. It’s better, but I realized later that the left side is a fraction longer.

After everybody was so yucky at supper I decided we would ride our bikes again to the commissary. Jack said finish fussing, which proved to be true. There was no fussing about the bike ride, thankfully. He needed help getting his helmet on which isn’t unusual, and I saw that his shorts were hitched up. One leg was pretty much all the way tucked in and the other leg was down. I told him several times to fix his shorts and finally said pull your shorts leg down, so he just pulled his shorts down right there in the parking lot and then he pulled his shirt up and said it’s dry! Lots of fun.

5 July Wednesday

Max hurt his tailbone yesterday. I had planned on going to Watiki today, but he asked that we wait till tomorrow so today was all errands. We went to ITT to get the Watiki tickets and there were only 6 tickets left! We mailed the letter to Greyson, picked up Jack’s ID bracelet and signed Max up for the lock-in.

Then we headed off the base and went to buy window insulation, light covers and a door handle cover.

We went out for lunch at a place recommended by the people at the camping store, then went home for a nap. After we rested we ran our last two errands: dollar tree and the grocery store.

6 July Thursday

Today we went to Watiki! It was a fun little place. We stayed 6 hours, and Marco’s pizza was there! I was planning on buying 3 individual pieces for lunch, but then changed my mind and was gonna buy a small pizza which would be the same price, but then talked myself into buying a large pizza, and we ate the whole thing while we were there!

When I was paying our entrance ticket I saw that anyone who poops in the pool may face a $1,000 fine!!! Wow! I know it’s a horrible thing, but $1,000!!! They mentioned that they sold swim diapers and I really thought about getting Jack one. I really don’t think he’d poop in the pool, but I can’t say for sure he wouldn’t. Then I remembered that I still had a couple of swim diapers in our truck! I left Max with Jack and ran out to get one. I had no idea if it would even still fit him, but I sure was gonna try! It fit, and he wore it all day without complaint. It was a big pain getting it up and down, just like the swimsuit was. I kept an eye on the clock and took him to the bathroom every hour, too. We had no accidents (as far as I could tell) but that poor swim diaper was just about shredded when we finally left there.

The little kids’ area was in a corner of the big, open room. When Jack would play there I sat on a chair at the bottom in the middle and watched him. At times he would go down the slide, but I saw him about every minute. After a while I realized it had been more than a minute, so I got up to look for him. He was gone! This whole place was on the small side, so it only took me a few minutes to find him in the lazy river. I told him seriously to not leave like that…that he had to always come get me when he wanted to go somewhere else. Anytime he wanted to go to a different place was fine with me, I just needed to go. I really didn’t think he understood fully, but what else could I do?

We played again for a few more hours, and when it was time to go I told Jack to go down the slide one last time and we’d go. Max was eating his last piece of pizza, and I was cleaning up our place. Jack took too long, and then we realized that he was gone! I watched from the bottom and had Max go up through the play area to look for Jack. No luck. We looked at all the other areas, still no luck. I started getting worried and kept wondering when if I should ask them to close the exits and help me look for Jack. Ugh! I wasn’t in a panic, but I was worried. There were 3 exits…one through the hotel, on that passed the Marco’s cashier and the one we’d come through, up a flight of stairs into the arcade room. I really thought Jack wouldn’t remember how we got there since it had been 6 hours. I couldn’t imagine where he could be! I searched the women’s bathroom and had Max go look in the men’s. Finally I approached a couple who worked there and told them I’d lost my 10-yo with Down Syndrome and the girl immediately said I know just what he looks like…he’s wearing the American flag swimsuit, right? I was so happy for his tell-tale face at that moment! She kept telling me she could look here or look there and I finally said just tell me where you’re going to look and I’ll look somewhere else. She looked at the lazy river, I sent Max to the hotel entrance and I went to Marco’s to see if they’d seen him. After I walked through the entire area another time or two I headed upstairs and immediately found him!!! Happily playing in the arcade with no money! I guess he had remembered where we came in after all. That boy! He’ll be the death of me yet! I told him several times that I had been really scared, that he scared me, and that he can’t leave me, but I don’t think he understands this at all.

7 July Friday

Today we went to Rush Mountain and rode some rides: the mountain coaster, a so-called zip-line which was actually a 2-seater hanging zip car, and a 7-D video. Really? 7-D?? I don’t know how they justified that but it was fun enough. While we were in line to ride the coaster a third time they shut it down because of lightening strikes in the area. Boo! I really liked that ride and had hoped to ride it several more times. The first time I didn’t think I’d slow it down at all but I ended up putting the brakes on a bit around the curves because of the jerkiness of the track. The second time someone in front of us must’ve been pretty slow because our car kept slowing down by itself. It was definitely more fun going faster than slower.

On the way home we stopped at the House of Scandinavia. I thought this was a restaurant, but it was actually a store with lots of Scandinavian things for sale. I always enjoy looking around at stores with foreign goods…it’s so interesting to see how other people live.

We went to a Mediterranean restaurant for lunch and it was pretty good. The hummus was disappointing, but the salad and shawarma plate we had were great.

We all took a nap when we got home so Max wouldn’t be too tired at the lock-in tonight. When we drove him to the youth center it was pouring down rain! We saw a rainbow on the drive over, it was a full half-circle! When we got home the downpour turned to a drizzle and there was a double rainbow!

I put on a movie for Jack and then cooked enchilada filling and started an overnight bread dough.

8 July Saturday

We picked up Max at 7am and he was doing great! He was only one of two to stay up all night!! We had both fully expected him to sleep at some point. I put the muesli bread in the oven to bake and sometime during that time the flame went out!!! I was so annoyed…it made the bread take longer to bake, and when it did bake it was almost as flat as a pancake! But it sure tasted good! I’ll have to make more of that sometime.

Since Max was not really tired I thought he could stay up a few more hours till an early lunch and then nap after we ate. We headed out to shop. We went to 3 thrift stores, but when we got to the commissary he said he was tired. We went home and had shrimp salad and quickly got into bed for a nap. After 2 hours I woke Max up which was a feat! We headed out on the hunt for a frozen Coke…I didn’t know it would be so hard to find! Max was really grumpy, and I really didn’t blame him, but we went to 4 different stores before we found one.

9 July Sunday

At church this morning I got a compliment on Max’s behavior. A lady in my Sunday School class said she’d been his craft leader in VBS a few weeks ago and said that he was well behaved, and that he really made her laugh. It’s always wonderful to hear nice things about your kids.

We went to the airport to pick up Tj and I’d planned on going out to eat, but he was feeling a bit sick so we went home and he went straight to bed. He’s been out of the country for the last few days and we think it’s just jet lag making his whole body feel out of sorts.

After the boys and I ate Jack and I joined Tj in the bed for a nap. When we woke up we talked long and hard about where we were going to eat, and finally settled on Dicky’s BBQ. I know it’s a chain, but Tj ate there in Memphis and said it was pretty good, and I’ve been seeing their billboard for the last 3 weeks and salivating every time for some good BBQ!!! Before we left the bus I’d settled on the 3-meat platter that I’d split with the boys, and I was going to get brisket, sausage and ribs. When we got there I ordered pulled pork, sausage and ribs without realizing it! This place had all the food already cooked, they just heated it up. I really didn’t expect much once I saw that, but it ended up pretty good. After we ate and were on the way home we saw the billboard and it wasn’t Dickey’s, but Famous Dave’s! And then TJ said he thinks Famous Dave’s is where he ate, not Dickey’s! We laughed and laughed about that for the next 3 days.

After Tj and I ordered they told us that with every adult meal they give a free kid’s meal, so in the end we had a lot of food to take home. That’s never a problem with bbq. Another nice thing is that they had soft serve ice cream for free, and root beer, so we all made root beer floats on the way out.

We headed to the huge playground for the boys to run off some energy. When we got home we sent the boys inside to shower and make beds and Tj and I sat outside for a date.

10 July Monday

Tj worked on finding us a place. This is the first time we’ve had real trouble finding an opening; I guess because it’s the height of Summer and camping season. The good and the bad is that we can go anywhere, but I think that’s more good than bad at this point. I think it stresses Tj out a good bit, though. I got the mail and made enchiladas and then tried to fix the toilet, but that was a chore! I couldn’t even complete the first step, so Tj stopped what he was doing to work on it. We were hoping we could fix it without taking the toilet off the floor, but after many tries he just unscrewed it from the base and laid it down on its side. He’s so persistent, but he didn’t get the crazy thing fixed. The original problem was that when other water in the bus was flowing the toilet would run. This isn’t major, but becomes a bigger problem when the washer is running; it’s possible that the toilet could overflow if we weren’t aware that it was continuing to run. Tj found online that changing out the mechanism wasn’t such a big deal, but that’s not how it worked out for us. We finally gave up for the night. I’m so thankful we have two toilets!!

11 July Tuesday

Instead of starting on the toilet again we decided to go to Rushmore today. I’ve heard that you need to get there early or you’ll be stuck in traffic. We got there at about 8:50 and there was already a line of cars. After seeing Mt. Rushmore we walked around the area a bit and heard part of an interesting talk about how they carved it.

I had forgotten that I told Tj a helicopter ride was really important to me. We’ve talked back and forth about helicopter rides since we went to the Grand Canyon. I really want to do them as much as possible, but there’s not doubt that it’s crazy expensive, which makes as much as possible mean not very often at all. It’s hard to justify that much money for that short a time. In the end Tj okayed my request, and we all 4 flew around the mountain. The pilot was a super nice guy who talked about how this is the job he always wanted. Both boys were super excited to go, too, although Jack was a little nervous as we lifted off the ground.

After that awesome ride we went to see Crazy Horse, another impressive carving. I didn’t know anything about it, really, and was interested to learn that it’s a family project and they take no government money for the work.

For lunch Tj wanted to go to a hamburger place but the line was too long. Tj found us another place, and once inside I asked him to choose my meal completely, and we agreed to split our meals half-and-half. He chose an open faced salmon on toast with tarter sauce for me, and he had a burger. I would never have chosen that salmon, but it was really good! I’m planning on having him pick for me again sometime. Max had an awesome grilled cheese with red peppers and pesto. We all had dessert, carrot cake, pot of chocolate and chocolate mousse. Afterward we shopped around a bit, and I found a couple of gifts for my peeps.

Back at home I started working on the toilet again, and after almost fixing it we discovered that a part was broken. Tj did some quick research online and we headed out to Camping World for a new toilet. If we’d realized we’d broken that part in the beginning we wouldn’t have had to go this long with that hanging over our heads!

We brought it home and Tj installed it, and it still leaks. Then he realized that the old seal came up with the old toilet. He fixed the seal and it works!!! Hallelulah!

I made the boys a roll up sandwich for supper and we all watched Alf, Max’s new favorite show.

12 July Wednesday

Today we left around our regular time, which means not too early, to visit the Minute Man Missile Museum. We were disappointed to find that the actual missile wasn’t there…this was just a tiny museum with facts and a gift shop. Because of this we didn’t stay long, and headed to the Badlands next. The Badlands were smaller than I imagined, and looked to be made of dirt which I found really surprising, I thought they were rock formations. They were beautiful to look at, but how have they not eroded away to nothing in all these years if they’re just dirt?! I need to do a little research, it’s clear. We drove through, and got out a few places to walk and climb around. The scenery we’ve seen over the course of this trip is amazing. We’re so blessed to be able to do this.

When we’d had our fill we headed over to Wall Drug for lunch. I had a roast beef plate, Tj had a roast beef sandwich with gravy poured all over. Blug. I wouldn’t want to eat that soggy white bread! He liked it, though, which is all that mattered. It wasn’t a great meal, but we enjoyed it. We walked around a bit in the huge store and I bought some bells, we bought Max a knife, and I got some fudge for all of us. This was great fudge…it stayed soft for 3 or 4 days!

At the end of our time we let Jack strip down to his shorts and he played in the water fountains in the back area. We dried him off as best we could and headed back to Rapid City and ice cream.

I made another roll up sandwich for supper. We watched Alf and had our fudge for dessert.

13 July Thursday

Twice now Jack has prayed “help pawpaw all better”.

TJ played Legos with Max.

I made taco salad for later; we ate shrimp and polenta for lunch.

After lunch I cleaned the bus and finally videoed the contents for insurance purposes.

I asked Tj to see if he could fix the water rocket the boys and I worked on while he was gone. He fixed it…Max hadn’t read all the instructions! Tj got it to work great, so then I wanted to film it and of course he couldn’t get it to shoot as high after that. After working on it a good while it seems really fidgety…you have to do it just right to get it to fly high. In the end we threw it away.

We had Philly Ted’s for supper. When the boys were in bed we watched the third Purge movie. We’ve been watching a movie almost every night and it’s been so much fun.

14 July Friday

We got our last free doughnuts today, and for the first time we were so late that they didn’t have our favorites. Oh well. I headed off to the thrift store by myself then. I found a pair of shorts for Jack, but nothing else. For lunch I had 3 chocolate strawberries and 2 Popeyes chicken wings. Yum!

I went to Walmart and then home. We left Max home by himself for the first time since the incident and went to the Commissary to walk every aisle. We went back home and quickly changed to go swim. I brought my crochet but all 3 boys got in the pool. Tj let Jack go down the slide, but wasn’t at the bottom to catch him. Then the lifeguard said only strong swimmers get to go down the slide. It would’ve been nice if they had that rule posted somewhere. It would have been even nicer if they’d gotten rid of that stupid rule.

About 5 minutes after they got in it was adult swim time for 15 minutes! What a bummer! Then they played the National Anthem so everyone outside of the pool had to stand and salute. In the end the boys got to swim about 30 minutes and then we left.

We had Marco’s for supper. After the boys went to bed we watched Get Out. I didn’t know anything about the movie, but we both enjoyed it.

15 July Saturday

We packed up and left Ellsworth around 10:15. The site was not very level, but there was good water pressure, free doughnuts, free large capacity laundry and you could see the city fireworks from where we were. The swimming pool was free, but had a lot of annoying rules.

On our way to the next campground we saw our second derailed train!

We arrived at the KOA around 5:30 in the new time zone. I made cinnamon rolls while boys swam. When they came back Tj said they’d had a near drowning accident with Jack! We ate taco salad for supper.

16 July Sunday

We had a crazy start to our day: we were trying to merge off of the highway onto another highway, and at the same place somebody was merging on. The whole merge configuration was about twice the total length of the bus plus the truck. The guy in a pickup truck coming on the highway just sat at our tow vehicle for the whole length; TJ practically stopped the bus before the pickup truck finally got the picture and floored it. I thought we were going to miss our turn there for a minute. Crazy!

We just left the KOA in Sioux Falls. It was a nice place to stay, somewhat level, though we did use three blocks and that made our bus completely level. Every site was gravel, there was a dog walk area, laundry, putt putt golf and a swimming pool. We never even unhooked the truck.

17 July Monday

We left KOA Campground around 10 this morning. It was a nice enough place, kind of crowded, but we had plenty enough room for our rig. Our neighbors slide-out was about a quarter inch from the electrical box, but we didn’t have that problem. There was a retaining wall next to our site, but again, we had plenty of room. Our electrical box wasn’t marked, but once we figured out where it was we had no problems. The sites were gravel and dirt, not very level, but with four blocks under the driver’s wheel the beast was level. We didn’t even check out the swimming pool, but the boys played on the playground while we set up and tore down.

On the drive we read the eclipse news and howled at the writing!! In one place it states, “If you’re planning an event or a family gathering related to the eclipse, consider this: Statistically, 100 percent of the people you encounter — to a high degree of accuracy — will never have experienced darkness at noon. you will be the expert.” We laughed so much, and then closed our eyes and experienced darkness at noon!!!!

On a whim we stopped to get gas at a place that had RV parking, low gas cost, an attached Denny’s restaurant, and the perfect parking spot for the bus ๐Ÿ™‚ We decided to eat lunch there. TJ and I shared the chicken-fried steak and the southwestern skillet, Max had chocolate chip pancakes. We got back on the road again no problems at all.

18 July Tuesday

We worked around a little bit, then went and ate a steak we cooked on a stone the restaurant heated to 600 degrees! That steak tasted so awesome, and I only put salt on it…not even any pepper! We went to the grocery store for a bit and then went home.

19 July Wednesday

On a cooking show the other day I saw a croque madame, so I tried my hand at it today. It’s a glorified grilled ham sandwich with a cheese sauce and an over easy egg on top. I was hoping it would be wonderful, but it ended up just pretty good.

Today the thermometer read 106 outside!! I think the outside unit must’ve been directly in the sun at that time. It is really hot outside, but our bus is completely in the shade, and even with us going in and out some the thermometer says 79 inside. Nice.

20 July Thursday

21 July Friday

Tj’s leaving today so I nagged him to fix the sewer, and then I actually fixed it. We went to Lambert’s for supper on the way to the airport. Tj had chicken fried steak that was massive!!! They served it in a 12″ skillet! Tj ate almost all of it, I had about 4 bites. I had fried chicken, and boy was it good. I do love fried chicken. I don’t know how anyone ever gets dessert there, with all the sides they pass around on top of how big the portions are.

22 July Saturday

Nothing too interesting. We stayed indoors mostly today. I kicked the boys out for a bit while I cleaned a bit and talked to Mom and Jo on the phone. We went swimming in the afternoon. I’m trying to swim every day here to make up for those cinnamon rolls!

23 July Sunday

Our church this month is just a 4 minute drive away. Nice. It used to be a meal and a show place which makes me chuckle. The Sunday School class I went to was nice, but nobody in there talks! Except me, of course. It seemed that no one wanted to answer any of the teacher’s questions. I had been praying that the Lord would show us which church we should attend this month, and Tj pointed this one out. I did my usual of going online beforehand to read all about what they believe/preach and what I read aligned with the Bible. The class in Rapid City had talked about Adam and Eve being perfect, and not being made with a sin nature…this was the first time I’d ever thoughtโ€‹ about that. I still dwell on that, not because I really think it’s wrong, just that I’ve never thought of that before. This SS teacher talked about Adam and Eve and this topic as well! He also said something I’d never thought about…that Abram didn’t know God (well?) before God called him to leave Ur. He gave us a verse in the prophets about how his father worshiped other gods. This is something I’ll have to think about longer, too.

After our nap I swam 6 laps, and finally tried out the swim cap. It’s so much nicer not to breathe in all my hair while swimming!.

I made buffalo chicken pizza with leftover fried chicken from Lambert’s for supper.

24 July Monday

Around 11 we ate lunch. I had a piece of avocado toast with mornay sauce, cheese and an over easy egg. Yum! After that heavy meal we headed out to Silver Dollar City. Tj and I decided to get season passes to SDC and not do many other things around here. I think it’ll be nice to not have to decide on a lot of different things. This is a case of too many options being a bit of a chore! I asked at the ticket office if I could buy a one day ticket and then upgrade at the end of the day to a season pass, and if I could just buy a season pass to the water park. The answer to both of those was yes. While I enjoyed some of SDC, Jack hated the roller coasters, and there’s not enough that I want to do over and over, so I decided to just get the water park season pass. Unfortunately at 9:30pm when we got to the upgrade office the guy said since I’d bought a one day ticket to both parks I could only upgrade to both parks. That burned me up, but he made no apology and there was nothing else I could do. At that point it was cheaper to upgrade than to outright buy a season pass to the water park.

Our day at the park started off with Jack throwing a complete screaming fit in the bathroom right inside the gate. If I hadn’t just paid for our tickets I would have turned around and gone home. It was hot as blue blazes, and I was doing this for the boys most of all. I don’t know why J was so angry. He doesn’t do this often, but every once in a while he just loses his cool completely. He was asking for help pulling his britches up, but I know he can do that by himself, so I refused to help him. The stall door was swinging into him and I told him to stop holding the door open, just to let it ‘fall’ on him and then pull his pants up, but it made him so angry. He finally pulled them up and I snapped and zipped them and told him to wash his hands, but by that point he was gone…he just yelled and screamed! He was past the point of communication. I feel so bad for him, but I don’t see how I could have anticipated that nor circumvented it.

After that we just wandered around the park for a few hours riding a few rides here and there. I made Jack go on all the rides with us, even a few middle-ground roller coasters. He’s ridden some in the past that haven’t scared him a bit, but that’s not the case now. He didn’t enjoy the swings, and I thought he would love that. He also was really scared on the circular ride where we all sat facing out from the center. There’s a back rest that comes up to snug you into the seat, then you swing back and forth up a curved ramp while the circle turns. It was a fun ride for me and Max, but Jack kept yelling, “I want to exit! I want to exit!!” He also was scared on the pirate ship that just swings back and forth, but it was so cool to see the glass of water they had sitting on the ledge that never spilled during the ride. After that I figured we should only do rides that Jack liked…after his blowout in the bathroom I figured I was making trouble for us if we kept forcing him on these rides. So the next few rides were kiddie rides just for Jack. Whenever we came across a ride Max wanted to go on he rode by himself. Overall this wasn’t such a fun day. It would be much better with TJ here so he and I could ride together sometimes. I really can’t leave Jack alone long enough for us to stand in line and ride a ride…he’d wander off for sure.

When we got hungry we went into the candy store and bought german chocolate coconut clusters, a sarsaparilla and a water. We ate almost all the chocolate and made sure to keep the water bottle for refills around the park. We went to the saloon show which had can can girls, a bad guy fight and corny jokes. We ate the rest of our candy there.

At one point I asked Max if he’d like to go off by himself so he didn’t have to keep riding the little roller coasters with Jack, but he said he didn’t want to because he didn’t have a watch. I said we could split up for 2 hours and we’d pick a meeting point, I really wanted to look in some of the shops and hated to drag both boys around. I don’t know if he didn’t want to ask other people for the time or if he was just chicken to be by himself, I suspect the former. But just when I was about to force him to go off on his own we started seeing this brother/sister several places, and I hated for their grandparents to think that I was asking them to keep an eye on Max. Max, Tony and Sierra went to do a roller coaster together, and Jack and I waited at the bottom of the water ride. Jack took off his shoes, socks and glasses and played in the water with other kids. At one point he got soaked! I know he felt better…it was a sweltering day! After the roller coaster the three big kids got Jack and they all rode on the water ride. We did several more rides together and then the girl said she was so hungry. We were getting pretty hungry too, so we all got supper together…batches of homemade chips with various toppings (taco and buffalo chicken) and then funnel cakes. The four of them (grandfather, adult niece, granddaughter and grandson) split two chips dishes and each one got their own funnel cake. The boys and I split one chip dish and one funnel cake. Max said they really know how to do it…each of them gets their own funnel cake! But then (after I fussed at him for saying that out loud) he was too full to even eat a third of the funnel cake. This boy is getting too big for his britches.

When we were just about finished with our meal the big kids headed out to another roller coaster and I took Jack to the bathroom. I finished first and told Jack that I was going right outside the door to fill up the water bottle and for him to finish up and then wash his hands. When I walked back in with my full water bottle Jack was hopping down the hallway with his pants around his ankles checking under the doors for me! I was so glad that the only other person in the bathroom was the niece, and she was in a stall…hopefully she didn’t see what Jack was doing!

Not long after this I was ready to go home, and grandfather seemed to be as well. When the kids came back we split up for the evening, but exchanged phone numbers. I had been looking forward to staying home tomorrow and not doing a thing, but they were planning on going to White Water, and since the kids had had so much fun together I figured we’d go as well.

Jack hadn’t ridden any rides since supper, and since (I thought) we weren’t coming back to this park I wanted him to be able to ride the train. When we got to the waiting area for the train there was about 20 minutes till the next train…that sounded great. Of course in 18 minutes they announced that there was a problem and the train would be a little late. 20 minutes later the train came. I was done. I was so tired, and annoyed by the kids screaming on the train. It was after dark and I just wanted to go home, and we’d already said we’d meet up tomorrow. Ugh. We stopped at the ticket booth on the way out to upgrade, and you already know how that went.

Fortunately the drive home was pretty short. Max was planning on eating a spoonful of peanut butter when we got home but he was too tired…it was about 10:30 when we all got into bed.

25 July Tuesday

M got up, tiptoed to me and whispered Jack is still asleep!! He went into the bathroom. Less than a minute later Jack got up and immediately dismantled both of their beds. Ha. Silly kid. Of course when Max got up he was bummed because he wanted to go back to bed for a while.

I used the last egg yesterday, but since we’re going to the waterpark today I’m not getting groceries. Jack had to eat oatmeal with Max and he’ll have his beloved fried egg sandwich when we have some free time for the grocery store.

Max wanted to go to the waterpark, but not early. I said when grandfather called us we’d put on sunblock/swimsuits and go. But of course when he called Max didn’t want to go. He never wants to go, and then he never wants to leave. He was a pill today. I told him to enjoy this day because it was his last good day.

Terry called me at 1:30, so we got ready and left. It wasn’t too hard to find them at the waterpark, thankfully. Funnily enough Max hardly hung around with the kids, but I enjoyed Terry and Shannon’s company. Tony was funny, last night he mentioned the handicap line a couple of times before I realized he wanted to use Jack to go to the front of the line. I told him Jack wasn’t that kind of handicapped. Heh. When Max and I talked about it I told him Tony was immature. He said I’m a year older than Tony and I don’t do that.

I didn’t do any adult rides, just hung out with Jack and our friends. At one point Jack, Shannon and I were in the wave pool and I had just shown Shannon how to lay on the float. Therefore, I was in no position to guide myself. And then I floated right on top of a guy! And I couldn’t move off of him! And then I grabbed his shorts!!!!! Fortunately I didn’t pull them down or anything, and his buddy was just looking at me and laughing. When the guy sat up (we were in shallow water…he had been completely submerged) he said well hello there in this funny voice.

Terry mentioned going out of the park to eat supper and then going back to the park. I liked that plan and was going along…then we realized the park closed at 7pm so they just snacked in the park. As we were leaving the park for the evening Terry said well, I’m a hugger, and that was fine with me. It was so much fun hanging out with them these two days. It’s too bad they have to drive back home Thursday.

26 July Wednesday

We were lazy in the morning, and then after lunch we went to Dicks 5&10. I had a small epiphany there…that if I constantly tell Jack to stay beside me then he’s trained me to keep him accountable, and he’s not accountable at all. I told him once that if he went out of my sight he’d have to hold my hand and then I let him roam the aisle I was on. Twice I had to hold his hand, but for longer than that he stayed with me.

After there we went to Walmart for groceries. Tj wanted new goggles and a better pool noodle, so I texted with him for a bit about that. Then I realized that it was just an hour before church! I hurried up and got the essentials, ran home and cooked 2 fried egg sandwiches for the boys to eat on the way and we went to church.

Max got nervous about going to his class…most of the kids there were way older than him. Jack’s class looked right up his alley; they started off in the gym playing with balls and them moved upstairs to a Biblical puzzle and a talk about the Bible. My class was a video lesson with a discussion sheet about giving it all to God.

27 July Thursday

It’s raining here today. Nothing major, just a little bit constantly. I got out our big umbrella and walked down to the office to see about extending our stay for another month. I also asked if they were ever planning on upgrading the (pitiful excuse they have for a) playground or getting some swings for the empty set they have, and she said the parts for the swing set just came in today, they’ll put them on soon. There had been an incident just before we got here where a swing broke and the girl’s mom stormed into the office and demanded that they make it right, but then they went off and did all kinds of activities that proved that the girl must not be hurt at all. I can’t imagine having to deal with irate people on a regular basis.

We went out to eat lunch at a highly rated place. I didn’t have my hopes too high, and it was a good thing. I ordered us a muffaletta, a reuben, and a Greek tray that had hummus, grape leaves, tahini, falafel, tzatziki, baba ghanoush, feta, kalamata olives and sliced tomatoes. That tray was my favorite. The other two sandwiches were fine but not extraordinary. I don’t feel any need to go back there.

There was an Amish store in the same parking lot as the cafe so we shopped there next. I laughed out loud when I saw a container of cheddar cheez powder…what kind of Amish are these? Max said, “Cheddar Cheez Powder, truly the heart and soul of Amish cooking!” and when I laughed he kept finding other things just as un-Amish and saying that. I bought a few things, and was excited to see they had Rada knives. I didn’t pack a paring knife when we moved out of the house, so now I have a new one!

We also finished our grocery shopping from yesterday, and then went swimming as soon as all the groceries were put up. I was annoyed at the pool when I realized that I’d forgotten our lunch leftovers in the truck…even though it had only been a few hours the truck was like an oven, so I threw the box out.

28 July Friday

I decided to be lazy in the morning, and since we skipped the water park yesterday because of the rain we’d go today. I never rushed the boys, but when they got ready after lunch we left.

Jack threw a fit at having to take his shirt off for me to put sunblock on his face, and I had had enough! He does this every time and I need to nip it in the bud. I had him stand in the corner while I cooled down, and then I got stern with him. I didn’t want to call off the trip (as much as I really did, actually) because I didn’t want to punish Max for Jack’s wrongdoing. After a serious talking to Jack straightened up and didn’t give me any more problems.

We were at the park for a few hours, and had some good fun. I stuck a credit card, my ID and a $20 bill in some ziplocks and carried them on me…I hate to pay $7 every time we go in for a locker! Sadly the ziplocks leaked…I’ll have to figure that out.

The boys drank tons of coke and really enjoyed themselves. At one point in the wave pool Max just jumped and belly flopped into the water. A minute or two later Jack did the same, but the water was much shallower and he landed on the concrete! Poor kid. He had a red spot on his ribs when he got up.

We came home and had nachos for supper.

29 July Saturday

It’s cooler here today, which is nice. I just made Mississippi chicken and spaghetti and it’s still cool inside even with only the back a/c running, and even though the thermometer says 99 degrees! It’s still nothing compared to earlier this week.

I’m surprised that the humidity isn’t too high in the bus, either. I checked it during the rain we had these last couple of days and this highest it got was 50%, and today it’s back down to 39% and I’ve never turned on the dehumidifier, and we’ve had lots of swimsuits and wet towels hung around here.

Ellsworth AFB

Saturday, July 1st, 2017

9 June Friday

We packed and left around 9am!! That’s pretty early for us. We headed straight to Grand Prismatic Spring, but of course we made ‘just a few’ stops along the way. We saw a big herd of bison including several calves, and I bought a cloth map of the park for fun that we ended up using for navigation our whole time here. Grand Prismatic Spring was awesome, but of course not as dramatic as the photos show. You don’t get as high above the spring, so you don’t get the full color effect; but that’s not to say it wasn’t beautiful! The colors were amazing. And what really surprised me was that the colors infiltrated the steam that rose, too! As we walked along the boardwalk Jack tried to hold the hand of a Chinese tourist. He’s always better-dealing…even when it comes to his family! Later on in the day at a gift shop there was some jewelry in the colors of the GPS…they were beautiful. That was so smart of whoever thought of making that and selling it there.

The two priorities I had for Yellowstone were GPS and Old Faithful. We sat for 45 mins before Old Faithful erupted. I didn’t expect all the sputtering as it worked itself up to erupt. Afterwards we listened to a talk by a park ranger about the geyser. He showed us a map of the underground part of Old Faithful; I was surprised at how far down the narrowness went. I guess I thought it was a big pool not too far underground with a small spout, but there is a narrow shaft of at least 70′ straight down. If I remember correctly at the narrowest point the shaft is 4″ in diameter. Another interesting fact is that there’s someone in the office facing the geyser who times it. If the total eruption is less than four minutes, the next eruption happens in about 40-60 minutes. If the eruption is four minutes or longer, the next eruption will be 75-100 minutes. I wonder how long it took them to figure that out?

We stopped along a river at a picnic table for lunch. I’d made a big sandwich for all of us on french bread, but without the mayo/horseradish/mustard, which I put on at the picnic. By the time we were halfway through eating we were all freezing! We packed up what was left and finished lunch in the truck.

We also stopped along the way back home to see a waterfall and saw a wedding party there for pictures. Right about then it started drizzling.

We made it home and I cooked pasta from Italy (I’d picked it up at Giuseppe’s sub shop a few days ago) and lemon artichoke pesto (from one of the creameries we visited). We finished off the birthday cake tonight ๐Ÿ™

10 June Saturday

It rained off and on all night, but fortunately we stayed dry. We slept till 7:30 when Jack woke me up.

Hip-o-pop-a-mus is what Jack said the bison were yesterday, and what animal he wants to see today.

What can I saw about Yellowstone? It’s so huge, there’s so much to see. We drove and drove, and listened to the audio tour Tj found for us. We stopped at mud pits and waterfalls and all kinds of other beautiful scenery. There’s too much to ever see it all.

I brought sandwiches again like yesterday. We made it home around 6pm, had leftover Chinese for supper, then the boys went out to play with Bridger and Fisher, our neighbors for the day. After a while Max asked if they could go to the game room so we sent him off with my change purse so he could play games, and Jack came inside to shower.

11 June Sunday

We got up late and packed up and moved out. We were straddling the checkout time and the check-in time, and we made it to the next campground on the dot of check-in! It was an hour and 40-minute drive through the park to get from one park campground to the other. The first two thirds of the trip were fairly easy and pretty to look at, though through the country we’d seen for the last two days. The last third of the trip was a little bit of white knuckling and sheer drop offs with construction and rural roads. If this doesn’t strengthen our relationship with God I don’t know what will!

We partially set up the bus and then headed out for pizza. I was kind of wanting to go crazy and get the pizza that had sauerkraut on it based off of Yelp reviews, but TJ wasn’t feeling it. He picked out a hamburger with jalapeno and banana peppers for half of our pizza, and the other half was supreme. They both looked good to me but I was so disappointed when I ate the first type of pizza. It wasn’t bad, but it did not interest me at all either. But when I picked up that supreme; Heaven! It was really great. The four of us wiped out a large pizza and an order of cheese sticks.

We hadn’t planned on going in the park at all today, but we had driven through some really beautiful, massive rocks about 20 minutes from the northern entrance. We knew we were going back there to look around and perhaps climb, but we didn’t think to put on our climbing boots or anything. We only stayed in the park about two hours, we looked there and then we went to Mammoth Hot Springs to see the travertine steps. TJ and I were both feeling an ice cream urge come over us so we headed back out of the park and all had one scoop of ice cream at a nearby place, and those were mammoth scoops! We looked around there a little bit longer and then went home. I assumed we would go straight into watching something for church, but there were kids near our site when we got there. The boys ended up playing with the kids and I chatted with the moms for a while. I said then we were going to watch church, but the neighbor boys were at our site again, so we ended up not having the kids come inside for showers until about 9 p.m.! I made us some popcorn and then we watched a video about the creation of the eye for church.

12 June Monday

We went into Yellowstone for our last day today. We just had two things we wanted to see, Slaugh Road for the wildlife, and Tower Falls. We went to Tower Falls first, and stopped at a thing or two along the way, including seeing a bear cub and then across the same street an owl in a nest high in a tree.

We went out for lunch in the park. I got the Philly cheesesteak which was awesome, but not like an actual Philly cheesesteak. The meat was so wonderful, kind of like a roast beef or a little bit of a Reuben taste TJ said because of the dark bread. TJ had the buffalo burger. Of course we split both of those entrees halfway. At first the burger was a little bland, but with a little salt on there the patty had such a good flavor. There was just a little bit of char and that made it excellent. Max got hot wings which didn’t have any sauce on them, the lady said the seasoning was in the breading. Jack had a burger and fries. All in all I was pleased with our lunch there.

After lunch we headed off to Slaugh Road to see some wildlife. We did see a wolf cub, lots of deer, several buffalo, and some prairie dogs. We started out on a hike, but decided it was too overgrown and we were a little bit worried about bears. I think if it had just been Tj and me we might have chanced it, but it just seemed so risky with the boys. We headed back out and stopped once more to climb a little hill near the truck. We’ve had such a wonderful time in Yellowstone, and seen so much of God’s beauty here.

We went straight to ice cream once out of the park even though it started raining half an hour or so before we left. It really did look like snow, and snow had been called for today. Despite the forecast it was the hottest it had been for us in Yellowstone. We all wore long sleeves and then wished we had had short sleeves. At the ice cream shop TJ got a gunslinger which is espresso and ice cream, I got a malt and the boys got a shake to share. We went shopping at a little souvenir store and saw lots of fun things, but nothing we bought. I saw some more wood bowls, but their sides and bottoms were too thick. Not like I need a delicate wooden bowl, but I didn’t want a big clunky one either, especially in the bus.

We headed back to the bus then and it was such a light drizzle that we decided to put the bikes in the back of the truck just in case everything was soaked by the next morning. During supper we watched two episodes of Lost while Jack stayed in the back and watched Milo and Otis.

13 June Tuesday

Yellowstone RV park site was pretty slanted, we used four blocks on one side and two blocks on the other. Every site was gravel. There was plenty of space for every camper, and our site backed to the river which was beautiful. We saw several rafts floating down the river during our time there.

While I was doing my three minute deal on the truck I was talking on the walkie talkie to Jack. I asked him for his favorite color and he said black. No surprise. I asked him what his favorite food was and he said mashed tatoes and chicken! When Tj got back in he asked him and Jack said french fries and chicken. We don’t generally ask him favorite things because it doesn’t seem to compute with him, but he’s been having a favorite demonstration on Gemini so I thought I’d go for it. I’m so glad I did ๐Ÿ™‚

When I saw what date it was today I told Max that it was my Pawpaw’s birthday. He said well we should send him a birthday card. I said we can’t and pointed up to Heaven, and then when he still didn’t get it I said he’s in Heaven now. You should have seen the shocked look on his face! I couldn’t understand why he was surprised, he hasn’t met either of my Pawpaws, so I said both of my Pawpaws are dead. He said Oh! I thought you said MY Pawpaw was dead! Boy did we have a good relief laugh after that.

Out of the blue today Jack said how bout music?

The stop we made tonight was just a halfway point to Devil’s Tower, so we didn’t get everything in the bus perfect. We just did a quick set up. We dozed a bit after the longer than usual drive, and then went out to eat.

The host at the campground suggested Wyoming’s Rib and Chop House and gave us a free appetizer coupon. We did eat there and the food was really good. The appetizer was fried green tomatoes with blue cheese, lump crab meat and a balsamic reduction. It was awesome! It was not any flavors I would have put together, but it was such a unique and interesting taste. I could have eaten the whole thing! TJ got a buffalo steak which was under salted but perfectly cooked. I got the ribs and they were one step down from awesome. They were really good. I ate every one of them. I also got the baked potato which was okay and the salad with thousand island dressing which was out of this world. Basically it was a great meal even though we found out later it was a chain restaurant.

There was paper on each table and the hostess wrote her name upside down and backwards, but so that we could read it. She left the colors and after a bit Tj drew Kilroy. When the (young and immature) waitress returned she said oh, I know Kilroy, he’s super old! The other funny thing is she didn’t even catch herself after she called us super old!

After supper we ran down the street to check out the gas station for the bus tomorrow morning, and stopped in at Albertsons to pick up some Cokes. We went back to the bus, put the boys to bed, and settled in for a little TV time.

14 June Wednesday

Peter D’s RV park was nice. We were able to pretty much level without any blocks. The whole thing was gravel, but there was lots of nice grass between each site. Kids were out playing, and the host was super friendly.

We woke up, packed up and left. We made it to Devil’s Tower KOA where it’s all gravel, but super level. There was plenty of length for the truck and the bus to park together, and a good enough amount of space side to side. There were plenty of amenities, and it is right at the entrance to Devil’s Tower, so that was cool.

We partially set up, packed some ice water and headed out to Devil’s Tower. It was pretty steep, but all on blacktop trails so pretty easy as well. Max did the Junior Ranger program here again, and there was so much information to fill out. At the end we sat right outside the visitor center for about half an hour while he finished doing all the puzzles and paperwork they wanted for it. He’s still a little nervous about going up to adults by himself, and doesn’t seem to have a good feel for when he can go right up to a counter and when he needs to hang at the very back of the line. A family of 5 kids was going to get their Junior Ranger patches, and since there was a big pledge they all had to repeat I told Max to just put his paper on the table at the same time. The pledge was really cute about not stepping on ants, not picking the plants, and not doing something else because that would be rude. TJ bought a shirt in the gift shop, but I didn’t see anything that I really wanted.

On the way back to our bus we were planning for the boys to go swimming, but when we got to the bus big drops of rain were starting to fall. Max hurried and put everything in the truck: the trampoline, the bikes, the skateboard etc. I started thawing out enchiladas for dinner, and then the rain stopped and the sun came out so brightly! I wanted the boys to go swimming but they both said they wanted to go to the playground so that’s what they did. TJ and I snoozed and read for a while, and then we got ready to go watch the movie. Being at the base of Devil’s Tower they play Close Encounters of the Third Kind every night. TJ popped popcorn while I fixed drinks and gathered snacks. We brought over a picnic blanket and two chairs and got there right as the movie was starting. About 20 minutes in TJ ran back to the bus to get us some blankets to cover up with because it was starting to get chilly. Jack fell asleep on my lap about halfway through the movie, which is always sweet. After the movie was over TJ carried him back to the bus while Max and I brought the rest of the stuff. Jack was ready to go to bed but he did go to the bathroom first. Twice lately he has pooped his britches! It does seem like his stomach was a little sick, so we haven’t busted him. But this has got to stop!

I got all ready for bed, had my ear plugs and eye mask on and was almost asleep when TJ says you have got to come outside and see the stars. They were beautiful! We could see the Milky Way even with the lights around. I think in these next few weeks while we’re at Ellsworth we’re going to have to make a point to drive out into the dark countryside and see the Milky Way now that it’s summer.

15 June Thursday

Not much to say about today. We drove to Ellsworthย AFB and set up. Tj saw there was a Marco’s here, so that’s what we had for supper! It was just as good as I’d remembered. He also saw that we have a half off coupon from them that expires next week. Guess we should have them again!

16 June Friday

Today was a work day. The repairman came early to fix Max’s bed, but that ended up being a bust, sadly. Now Tj’s working on getting us an appointment at Thor.

After he left the boys played outside while we did chores around the house. Tj flushed the tanks and the water heater and hooked the half-bike on. There’s free laundry here and the washers are giant! So all of our comforters got washed. Lovely.

17 June Saturday

Today I cut Tj’s hair, and then took him to the airport. I need to cut my hair, but whatever.

18 June Sunday

I couldn’t find my way off the base this morning on the way to church. Just another adventure! I thought Google would take me there but it brought me to a third closed gate, and I’d left the map in the bus. When I finally gave up and went back to the bus to get the map I made sure to leave it in the truck! Turns out I drove right past the second gate but missed it. Oh well. We missed Sunday School but made it to church.

19 June Monday

One of the reasons I chose this church was because it had VBS for kids Max’s age. After service yesterday I asked if there were usually any kids in VBS his age and they said there would be, so I signed them up!

I stayed with Jack all morning, figuring it would be more mature than just leaving him and hoping for the best. He did really well! He stood in line for about 10 minutes while waiting for his class to go in, and I never even had to tell him to get back in line. I corrected him a few times during the day, but no more than you’d correct a typical kid. Looks like I’m gonna have some free time! Woot!

I figured I deserved a break after VBS so we went to Philly Ted’s. I ordered us half size of three sandwiches: the Bear, the Viking and the Steeler, and some chili cheese fries. All three sandwiches were awesome, but the fries were the best for me.

Then we went to Goodwill and Max hit the jackpot! He finally found a white shirt and red tie. He’s over the moon about his Odd Squad uniform. It really does look right, especially with his gold Junior Ranger badge from Devil’s Tower.

In the afternoon Jack and I rode our bike. He doesn’t like it, but I’m hoping it’ll grow on him. He also rode 4 laps around the dumpster on his own bike.

I wanted to take the boys to see the Milky Way again…it’s best seen in the summer according to the internet. I found out when last light was, checked the weather and the moon timing, and we headed out tonight. Of course, last light doesn’t mean last light, and when we got out there and I was talking to Tj on the phone he looked up even more info for me and said we’d probably have to wait another hour for the best time. The boys will be beat tomorrow as it is. So this night’s a bust. Maybe next time.

20 June Tuesday

While the boys were at VBS I went to a thrift store and bought a wooden sword and some books for Max. While I was waiting to go into the first store a woman came to my truck window. I was on the phone with Mom, but could see that she had the shakes. I put up my hand to tell her to wait, and she went away after a minute.

We’ve ridden the half bike every day so far, but it’s too hot today!

Our Marco’s coupon expires tomorrow, so we used it today for supper. YUM!

21 June Wednesday

Today was water day at VBS.

While on my own I bought some gifts for Jack’s teachers; chocolate covered cherries, cute little chalkboards and chalk. I really appreciate this free time! I finished World War Z today.

22 June Thursday

Today while on break I got the oil changed and worked on my blog. I found a corkboard for Max’s Legos at a thrift store. After buying that a
woman stood by my truck till I walked outside and asked for a ride to the Post Office.

After VBS we went to Arby’s for lunch. The billboard announcing their pork belly sandwich had been taunting me all week! Sadly, it wasn’t worth it. I gave half of it to Jack and mostly ate the smothered fries I also ordered.

After our nap I started crocheting a washcloth.

Today Jack rode 5 laps around the dumpster! He still fusses, but I make him do it, and up the number of laps each time.

23 June Friday

Last night after the boys were asleep I went to the living room/their bedroom for some reason. When I opened the door J was awake and commenting on the wind…it’s so windy here, almost every day. I went over to him to hug him and put him back to bed, and tripped over Max! I found out the this morning that he doesn’t remember any of it, so fortunately there was no permanent damage, but I was kinda scarred from stepping on his face! He said there was a moth fluttering around near him while he was reading before bed, but he couldn’t get it to go out the window, so he moved to sleep on the floor by Jack. Ugh.

I made rolls using a 30-minute roll recipe…they were awesome! I cooked up some sausage and that on a roll was wonderful for supper.

This base does Revillee at 7:30am, the Star Spangled Banner at 5pm, and Taps at 10pm. It’s so cute to see the boys facing the music with their hands over their hearts.

24 June Saturday

Hermit day! I only got out of my pj’s to see if the office was open to pick up our package, and only then because Tj asked me to. It wasn’t. In the afternoon I made cinnamon rolls using the roll recipe, and they were awesome!! I brought 4 over to our neighbor so I wouldn’t be too tempted. Heh.

After we’d been in the bed an hour or so Max came to get me and said there’s an incident. The moth is back! I told him I was sorry, but he had to kill it. He didn’t fight me, but he didn’t want to do it at all. He was so mad at the moth for always landing in a tight space between two cabinets. If only it would land on the floor or plain wall he could kill it easier! Poor kid, we struggled with this for at least half an hour before he got it. He’s so freaked out by moths it’s sad to see, but I won’t be doing him any favors if I kill it.

We’re having the same situation as at the last place. We’ve been here for a week with no moths, and then in these last two nights I’ve killed about 3 moths. I hope they’re not breeding in here, but the last time this happened the weather got hot the next day and we didn’t see anymore after we started running the a/c. The last time we had this the moths were black and these are brown, and it’s been about 3 weeks since the black moths so I know it’s not the same moths.

25 June Sunday

After church today we went to the hardware store for a bit of pipe to fix the half bike. Here’s hoping!

26 June Monday

Jack is humming The Star Spangled Banner! So sweet!

We decided to go to Reptile Gardens today. I read some good things about the shows there, so I was excited to go. I had to just stop at the office and get a package first. Of course when I got there they didn’t have our package. They sent me to The Postal Service Center, but they didn’t know where that was, they just had a phone number. We went to ITT next to see what kind of tickets they had and I asked them where the Postal Service Center was and they didn’t even know the base had one! ITT didn’t have what I wanted but they did have a really discounted price for Disney, and a great price for Watiki, the local indoor water park. We went back out to the truck and I called The Postal Service Center to see where they were and then drove over there. They didn’t have our package but sent me to BITC. That place was way out in the boonies, there were 3 deer sleeping in the shadow of a nearby building. But they had our package! By this time It was basically time for lunch. I was on the phone with TJ and he said I should just go get some lunch and then go to the Reptile Gardens, so that’s what we did. We went to Pacific Rim Cafe and had Vietnamese egg rolls, spring rolls, and half a bhan mi sandwich. It was all good, but it didn’t bowl me over that’s for sure.

After lunch we headed Reptile Gardens. I had seen online that there was military discount so I asked about it; I didn’t really calculate the price but had somewhat of an idea of it when we went in. I was completely surprised when she said it was $50 for the three of us, but then she said the crocodile show is starting right away so we just went straight to the crocodile show. It was awesome! The guy who led it was really a natural speaker, he had some funny corny jokes. It surprised me how often he just prodded those alligators to get them to move. It was a 30 minute show, and he talked about alligators and crocodiles facts, where they live, etc. Then at the end he brought out a bucket of chicken scraps and got the gators and crocodiles to catch them in their mouth. Some were eager, but most were lazy. I could have watched that show a few times, that’s for sure. It was pretty interesting.

After we watched it we went to the playground for a little bit, where I pulled out my receipt and checked my math. She definitely overcharged us somehow, so after about 15 minutes we went back to the entrance and talked to her about it. She was very kind and tried to figure out exactly what she did, and after a minute or two she refunded me what was due. The awesome thing about this place is even though it’s pretty expensive in general if you’re visiting you can get a free pass for the entirety of your stay. But TJ told me later that if you live here one ticket purchase entitles you to a month-long entry pass. So that’s cool too. I think we’ll probably go back when we’re close to it several times just to look around. After that we went into the dome area and saw massive pythons and other snakes, sadly they were roaches there too. Jack and I split off from Max and we went upstairs. We got behind a couple while we were looking at all the snakes and we each chatted about nothing much. When we got around to the flattened penny machine they were making one and then offered to buy Jack one. That was so nice of them. I said something about being nice isn’t just a Southern thing, and they said no, it’s also a small town thing.

We went back to the playground for a bit, walked around and saw the tortoises, saw a bunch of turtles, and then watched the bird and the snake show (those were two separate shows, but how cool would a bird and snake show be?) The bird show was fine, there was a vulture that was actually kind of pretty.

But the snake show was really good. Almost as good as the crocodile show. There was a good mix of facts and interesting stuff, the different types of snakes, the different types of venomous snakes etc. The guy rolled out this dresser of locked cabinets full of snakes. And would explain each one as he took it out. It was funny because when he started talking about the venomous snakes he said I’m going to use this metal pole instead of my hands to get the snakes out so that I can keep their heads away from my body as much as possible. Well then that snake started slithering up that pole to get as close to him as possible. He laid the pole down for a little while and then when the snake started going toward the other again he picked it up again, and the same thing happened. So he laid it down again and grabbed another pole. He kept talking throughout the whole show, it was just very enjoyable.

We went back to the playground one more time and then looked through the gift shop for a bit before heading home. I saw a bunch of bowls from Turkey just like the one I already have. I know it’s crazy but I am considering buying another one. They tied it in by saying some of the animals in the exhibits are from these countries and then had souvenirs from several different countries. We’ll see if my common sense or my lust for Beautiful Things wins out.

On the way home Max reminded me that we were out of milk so we stopped at the grocery store for a little bit. There went my plans for making pizza for supper. It only takes me about an hour, but there are other things I can make quicker, and we didn’t get home till about 7:30. We had quesadillas and watched Star Trek with supper and then got in the bed pretty late. We all talked to TJ for a bit too so that pushed our bedtime off even later.

27 June Tuesday

We went to Jump Craze today. I thought I’d looked at the website thoroughly, but after I’d plugged in the address into the truck’s gps I saw it opens at noon! Doh! Guess I’d better check better next time. We all piled out of the truck and back into the bus. After a bit I sent the boys outside while I made pb&j graham crackers for lunch.

Jump Craze was fun, and pretty empty. Max got upset at the boys playing dodge ball but calmed himself down and went right back to playing. I don’t even know the particulars, but I’m glad he worked it out by himself. Jack roamed all over, and attached himself to a teen girl for a while. I made sure he wasn’t annoying her with his constant ‘tag, you’re it’ business. After a while he was trying it with a teenage boy but Max quickly came over and told me Jack shouldn’t be playing with that boy…that he’d used the middle finger a couple of times. I’d been watching the boy while Jack was with him and everything seemed alright. I asked the boy if Jack was annoying him and he said no so I let it be. Jack left off playing with him, but went back another couple of times, and each time Max was right next to me saying the same thing. He’s so protective of Jack, when he’s not picking on him.

I used the rest of the peanut butter for lunch so we stopped at WM for a few more groceries on the way home. We came in and quickly changed into swimsuits and headed to the pool. It’s been warm today, but it’s always so windy so it’s hardly been hot enough to really make you want to swim. The boys only got to swim about 30 minutes before lightening was sighted and we had to get out of the pool. While we were there, though, I chatted with the only other mom there, and Max played with her kids. Fun!

After that we checked out the youth center. I thought it would be a place for Max to hang out with other kids inside while I took Jack out to the back to play on the playground. Nope. It’s basically after school care, even in the summer. I can pay for them to keep the boys, and they’re even having a lock-in! I talked to Tj and he’s all for Max going to that.

I made buffalo chicken pizza for supper, without the chicken! Max asked about it while at the store but I forgot to get chicken. I did have bacon so I put that on there, but it was a waste. You couldn’t really taste the bacon. I seeded and diced a tomato to put on half of the pizza…Max didn’t even know it was there, and it didn’t register on my pallette either.

28 June Wednesday

Black light golf at Putz and Glow.

Since we passed right by Reptile Gardens to get to Putz and Glow we stopped in at RG again so Jack could play on the playground and in the sandbox.

29 June Thursday

PJ day! It rained off and on all day which was nice. We skipped breakfast and then I made ham and cheese scones for lunch. I’m always disappointed in flavored scones…these were good, but much better when I put a slice of ham in there! I guess I just need to stick to biscuits.

We all worked after lunch. Max had a letter to Greyson to finish up. G’s grandmother asked if they could be pen pals; I said yes, but Max is loathing it. I told him he had to write at least 3 letters…after that we’ll evaluate. I finally changed our address with Uncle Jerry and Aunt Vicki, finished up putting insulation around the bus, and finally ordered Jack’s ID bracelet.

For supper I made a new recipe: sausage and sun dried tomato pasta. It was fine, but again, a little bland.

30 June Friday

We hit up the office for free doughnuts. Man, I’m gonna miss that when we leave here! Then we went home and made ice cream from a recipe off of FB. Shake cream in a mason jar with a little sugar/vanilla/salt and leave in the freezer for 3 hours. Then it was time for the base picnic. It was close enough that we walked there. Jack was ecstatic about the jumpy castles, of course. Max had a lot of fun with the bubble soccer…I didn’t know what that was, but I guess it was the body size bubbles you get in and run around into other people with. Paintball was available but Max didn’t want to do it because he’s heard it hurts. When we first walked by the paintball area there were just adults playing, but later there was a kids time. By the time I saw that it was about time to go. Lunch was provided…pulled pork or hot dog, cole slaw/beans/chips, and Cokes or water to drink. There was a mock jail where you told on your friend, then someone went and put real handcuffs on them and walked them to the jail cell set up right in the middle of activities. There was a judge who told everyone what your crimes were, and I don’t know if you had to pay to get out or pay to put your friends in, or of the whole thing was free. I”m sure it was fun for everyone here who knows other people they could send to jail…it went on the whole time we were there which was 10:30-1:40pm. We would’ve stayed another 20 minutes to then end but Jack threw up! Fortunately not in the jumpy castle! I made sure he waited a long time after eating to go back and jump and he was fine. Then we went to get a bottle of water and he drank a good third of that. He played bubble soccer a bit and had the rest of his water. 5 or 10 minutes after that he threw up…I guess I should’ve slowed his water consumption down. It seemed funny to me that he didn’t throw up while being active, it was after 2-3 minutes of standing still. Of course as we were walking home he was asking to jump again.

We came home and showered him, then he watched Milo and Otis while I dozed. Max and I put together the water rocket we’ve had forever, but it didn’t work. I guess we’ll have to wait to ask Tj if he can figure out where we went wrong.

I’m planning on cooking bacon and eggs to go with the rest of the scones for supper, and then our homemade ice cream for dessert!

I just stepped outside to see if we should go hunt down the Milky Way and it’s perfectly clear! But the moon’s already out. Bummer.

Craters of the Moon, etc.

Thursday, June 22nd, 2017

31 May Wednesday

There’s a different kind of static here. In AZ my skirts stuck to me, but here my hair flies out at any given chance. I didn’t notice it there but I never had trouble with my hair until here.

By the time we got ready to go today it was so close to lunch that I decided we’d have lunch first. I made a new recipe of chicken in the cast iron skillet with asparagus and a creamy gravy. It turned out pretty good. I’ll probably do it again with broccoli instead of asparagus. Max thinks that would be less detestable ๐Ÿ™‚

After lunch we got all ready to go and headed over to the old Idaho State Penitentiary. That was an interesting place to visit, the garden there was really pretty. I wonder how it looked when it was a prison. I took a lot of pictures of the boys behind bars, and we read a lot about different criminals and why they were there. We got to see the room where people were hung, and then go downstairs and see the bottom part of that room. Strange. We also saw a whole little room dedicated to jailhouse tattoos, how to get them, and how it’s illegal in every state for you to get them in jail! After that we went next door to a geologic museum. Honestly I went there because it said there was a gift shop ๐Ÿ™‚ The gift shop at the prison left much to be desired. This gift shop wasn’t much better, but the lady at the desk gave Jack two little free plastic things. She really took a shine to him.

After that there was only about an hour till church so I found a playground at a Chick-fil-A and we settled in. After the boys had been in the play place for a few minutes a lady leaned out from another booth and said your older son is an awesome big brother. She said a couple more things to me which really made me smile. At first I didn’t know she was talking to me so it took a little bit for me to figure out what she was talking about. Max and Jack were playing and her two kids were in there as well, and I think Max was playing with all of them. This trip has really helped Max open up, and he wasn’t that shy before honestly. After a little while I checked to see what time church was and it was actually a half hour later than I expected. When that lady and her kids got ready to go they left and then came back after a little bit and asked if we could exchange numbers and get together again sometime. I told them that we were only going to be here another week and she seemed really disappointed, which surprised me. Then she asked if we could friend each other on Facebook and that surprised me more. It seems funny, I’ve almost gotten more new Facebook friends since starting this trip than ever before.

We droppedโ€‹ Max off at church and headed to Whole Foods. Jack and I split a piece of pizza and a salad there. We shopped around a little bit, and then headed over to Trader Joes. Last time I was there I had seen some steak and stout pies that I meant to get, so I picked them up this time. I also got another package of candied orange slices, those were so good.

When I got back to the church to pick Max up he was waiting for me outside, I guess they got let out a little early tonight. Last week Max got a $5 gift card for being new, and this week they gave him a Hershey’s bar with almonds for it being his last time to be there! That kid’s really made out at this church!

1 June Thursday

Today was a complete pj day. It was rainy and wonderful to stay inside. Last night after church we stopped at Shopko and Max spent his $5 for the month on two 2 liters of Dr. Pepper and a small Toblerone. He gave Jack a small cup of Dr. Pepper, and he drank all but another small cup of Dr. Pepper today. He kept saying that it was such a great day, and we really needed to have a day where we didn’t do anything at all. But then when I was fixing supper at 7 he said after supper I think I need to get outside, I think getting some exercise would make my belly feel better. I think not exercising has made my belly feel bad today. I said well maybe it was that two liters of Dr. Pepper, you think? He smiled and agreed. He and Jack didn’t do anything all day, and I hardly did anything, but I did make enchilada fixings, and a new Asian soup.

I forgot to blog this, but the other day when we changed the oil in the bus, as Max was getting ready to go outside to play I saw a huge moth flying around in the bus. I’m not scared of moths at all really, though I probably shouldn’t say that now, so I don’t think of Max as being scared of them. I told him before he left he needed to kill that moth. Well that was a crazy ordeal. In the end he never did kill it, but he sure did spend a lot of energy yelling and screaming about it. He was completely freaked out! TJ and I didn’t have time to deal with it because we were trying to take care of the oil change. At one point we went back in the bus to get something and saw that Jack was crying, he was so worried about Max. TJ immediately took over with Max and I grabbed Jack’s Crocs and we headed out to the playground. He’s such a sweet boy. When anybody near him is upset he gets upset. And Max was crying, a lot. Jack and I played at the playground for a bit, and then we checked out the gym nearby. There was a doctor’s scale there, and I really hope it’s accurate, but my weight was so low even with all my clothes on that I could hardly believe it. I think I have lost a little weight recently, but not that much.

Max got back his 3Ds today. It’s the first electronic since the incident.

Now it’s bedtime and I just caught Max’s moth. I think it’s what flew between me and my phone last night, and I took that as a sign it was time to turn the light off ๐Ÿ™‚ But I put the boys to bed about 10 minutes ago, flossed my teeth, and was in the middle of brushing my teeth when there was a huge thump from the front. Jack had fallen out of bed. He seemed really shaken up so I guess he was already asleep. So we hugged, I fixedโ€‹ his bed, put him back to bed, and finished brushing my teeth. Then the moth was up by the light over the sink. I guess God has given Max a reprieve on that one ๐Ÿ™‚

2ย Juneย Friday

I killed two more moths! They’re huge and black…unlike any I’d ever seen before. Hopefully this isn’t just the beginning!

I didn’t want us to eat out twice today, so I got us up and out of the house pretty early. We brought some granola bars and water and headed out around 9 a.m. Our first stop was Malad Gorge. It was recommended to us by fellow campers last week. It took us about an hour and a half to get there, but since Max got his 3DS back last night he didn’t mind the drive at all.

When we pulled up to the gate shack I talked to the lady there for a good while about what we should see and do. She said she wasn’t from Idaho which I thought was funny since she was working at an Idaho State Park. There were six stops around Malad Gorge, but we didn’t go to all of them. One was just showing us the plant life they’re trying to reintroduce to the area, we skipped that one. The Gorge was beautiful though, with a really nice waterfall we walked over at the first stop. I don’t like going to these things as much without TJ, Max gets right out to the edge which I don’t mind so much, but it does make me a little nervous. Jack is at the point now where he wants to go right out to the edge too, which I mind a great deal. I won’t let him go within about two or three feet of the edge without holding my hand.

When we finished all the stops we headed to lunch at Ziggy’s. I got mixed up with the restaurant I saw closer to Twin Falls that I’m going to try to get TJ to take us to next week. Ziggy’s was a little gas station, but since it’s one of not many restaurants in the area it had pretty good reviews. The fried catfish was great, but the chicken fried steak was just so-so. It was pretty thin and a little tough. I just ordered those two meals thinking they would be enough for the boys and me, and really thinking that we would finish them. They were huge though, so we took tons of hush puppies and a good many fries home.

We headed down to Balanced Rock, and made several stops along the way. Our first stop was a garage sale where Max bought a water pistol with a holster and a sheriff’s badge, and a three-ring binder. We stopped at another garage sale not too far down the road, but the woman wanted $30 for a croquet set so we didn’t stay long. She had several really nice lawn toys they’d made to sell…that’s not my kind of garage sale! We made a few more stops; the area was beautiful. There was a place with a ton of waterfalls across a river, so I took a few pictures. One of the pull-offs was so beautiful, an overlook of a valley that had so many cloud shadows and so much sunshine, it was awesome! Max climbed all the way down the boulders to see a car wreck at the bottom! Jack wanted to climb down too but there was no way I was letting him do that.

We finally made it to Balanced Rock, and it was a sight to behold. It looked pretty awesome poking up from all the rest of the rocks, like a crooked finger pointing straight into the sky. Max climbed all the way up to it, I climbed nine-tenths of the way, and Jack climbed halfway. When we were about halfway up we heard a huge explosion! When the Japanese people who were already at the site when we got there passed us climbing up to the rock we each confirmed that we didn’t think it was thunder, it was definitely an explosion. When we got home and talked to TJ, he remembered there’s a bombing range nearby, so we figured that must be what it was. It was pretty exciting though!

The last place I wanted to visit was mentioned to us at Malad Gorge this morning by the gate lady. We looked for Billingsley Creek but it was a little difficult to find, so we moved on to Earl M. Hardy Box Canyon Springs. With all our driving around the boys finished off the fries and hush puppies before our last stop. Google showed there were no roads right up to the end point, but she was taking us as close as she could. When the road went from two lanes, to no painted lines, to gravel I figured this was not going to work out well. Fortunately there were two guys working on an irrigator close to the road, so I pulled over and asked them for help. They told me which way to go, so we turned around and headed to the right place. It was basically a little parking lot about big enough for 8 cars. The guys had said you park and then walk out to the water, so that’s what we did. I didn’t think it would be that far out, but in the end I think it was about a mile. This wouldn’t have been such a big deal but it was hot and late and the boys were tired. But boy was it worth it! The water was so clear you could see straight down to the bottom, the whole area was so beautiful! Once again we all sat right on the edge of the cliff and the boys threw lots of rocks down.

We headed back home and it was pretty late, but it’s still so bright around here. I don’t think it gets dark till about 10 p.m. My Pioneer stereo had trouble for a while, but it was a straight shot at 80 miles an hour so I left the phone unplugged for a while and talked to TJ on my headset while Max played his 3DS again and Jack played the iPad. By the time he and I hung up my stereo worked again, thankfully. I filled up with gas, and then when we got on the base I left the boys at the playground while I went home and showered. We were all so dusty and sweaty from the day, I just put all of our clothes right into the washer and washed them. The boys came in and showered while I made loss bread for supper. I let Jack fall asleep in his bed, and then moved him to my bed so that we would all get a great night’s sleep. That boy is heavy! And so awkward to carry. And I don’t get a good night’s sleep while he’s in the bed with me, but I can keep him asleep longer in the morning, so that’s something.

3ย June Saturday

We slept late, and ate and then headed out. I have such a long list of errands to run today I wasn’t sure I’d get it all done. The first place we went was the little shopette to buy more vodka. I’m almost out of vanilla, but I think my beans are still good so I refilled that. We’ll see. I was telling Max that even though it’s drill weekend we don’t need to worry about listening to the announcements. I think I spoke too soon though, when we were about 3 car lengths away from the gate some guys ran out from the guard shack and shut the gate on us! I wasn’t sure if they were shutting one lane or both…maybe they would be checking cars on the way out? Nope, once I moved over to the left lane they closed that side too. Of course then people pulled up about even with me in the right lane…and that’s where I wanted to be! We waited and waited, and then I saw a cop truck coming up behind me! I started to pull to the right shoulder, and saw that dude even with me pulling ahead and to the shoulder! Now I didn’t have enough room to let the cop through without going over the line painted for the gate-swing. Oh well. Fortunately there was still enough room to open the gate fully 10 minutes later. What an adventure!

Our next stop was the thrift store on Main Street. This is where I Max and I had seen lots of bikes, and I was hoping to find one for Jack. We didn’t find a bike for him, but we found a half bike (there’s a full seat and handlebars for Jack, but it connects to my bike under my seat)! I’ve been looking for one of these for a while, but online there are more than $100. This one was $25, but I really didn’t think TJ would think it was a justifiable purchase since we’re just about to get J a new bike. I texted him but he was sleeping so I decided to do the mature thing and leave it. I did find a game of dominoes for Jack, I can’t wait to set it up and see how it all works. We moved on to another thrift store then, but found a place to recycle the oil from the bus beforehand.

When we got to the second thrift store Jack and I headed straight for the bikes, and I saw one that I thought was pretty good, but it was $24. That is a good price, but what if the tires were flat, and I didn’t know if we’d have to replace them or the tubes, so it seemed a little expensive for what we were getting. TJ was awake at this point so we talked and he said the same thing. We left the store without buying anything (although Jack did manage to lose the flag Max got at Medieval Times). TJ did think I should buy the half bike, so we headed back to that first thrift store. On the way we stopped at the Lego trade and buy back place, and Max was stoked to find a jet that he could afford. I did let him borrow $6 for me, which is completely against the rules, but I felt like an exception should be made in this case. His jet came with three Minifigs, so he was super excited. Still on our way to the first thrift store again we stopped at Albertsons and got some Cokes. Along the way I kept praying that if the Lord wanted us to have that half bike he would put it there, and if he didn’t that I would be happy with his decision. When we got there it was there! I looked it all over, sent a few photos to TJ, and went inside to pay. I asked the lady if they gave a military discount and she said yes! Even better!

Then we headed to Walmart where I found a bike for Jack. Up until Walmart Jack had not been excited about the bike shopping, but here where we found a green and black bike he started getting excited. As we walked through the store with the bike in the buggy Jack kept playing with the tires and kept saying my bike, and told me several times he wanted to ride his bike. I’m hoping this goes better than the last time we bought him a bike like this. We’re planning on taking the pedals off and letting him just walk around with it for a while to get used to the balance idea. We’ll see how it goes. We got the rest of the ingredients for Jack’s birthday cake and headed home. Halfway home Jack was sitting next to his bike again and said my bike is so cute!

When we got home I sent the boys to the playground and I made buffalo chicken pizza. We ate, showered, vacuumed and cleaned up around here, and are all now in bed.

4 June Sunday

We did our usual for today, all of us went to big church first, had a break with some donuts, and then I dropped the boys off at their Sunday school and I went to the thrift store. One of the stores isn’t open on Sunday, of course it’s the biggest one! I went to the other one though and found a pair shorts, and then headed back to the church. I stopped at Shopko on the way to get some water bottles, and then waited for church to let out. I got the boys and we headed back home for lunch and a nap.

TJ told me his plane was coming in at 6:15, so I knew that leaving at 6 would be get me there in plenty of time. For some reason this time I never even thought about checking FlightAware. About half an hour before we were supposed to leave the wind started going crazy! I was making a new recipe so I have stuff cooked for when TJ’s here, but I left it at one point for Jack and me to go walk around the block just to see the wind. At some point I could feel sand stinging my legs, and you could just see big dust storms all around. I checked and it said it was 4 – 7 miles per hour, but I knew that didn’t include gusts, and I really don’t think that was too accurate. After a while I sent the boys out to play, and then TJ texted me that they were just about arrived!! I was worried that I wouldn’t get to the airport in time, so I ran out to the truck and drove to the playground and the boys hopped in. I had checked on the antenna earlier and it seemed fine, and since I was in a hurry I didn’t check it again. We got to the airport at least five minutes before TJ walked off the airplane to the truck, and he said that the radar now showed 40 mile an hour winds! That’s just crazy! I had worried a tiny bit about him being able to land until I saw a plane take off during our walk. We went back to the bus to lower the antenna and then went out to eat.

Max had been asking to go to A&W restaurant for so long that we finally decided to indulge him. I had decided beforehand I would get a root beer float with chocolate ice cream because the online menu said they had chocolate soft serve, but when we got there they only had root beer soft serve ice cream. So I got a root beer float with root beer ice cream, it was amazing! I also got a tiny chicken sandwich and some fried cheese curds. I’m in love with those things! It poured rain for a couple of minutes while we were there, but had stopped by the time we left. When we got back home I made a fruit salad but TJ was bushed. We got the kids in bed and watched a little bit of TV before hitting the hay.

5 June Monday

It’s Jack’s birthday today! I’m excited to see how the bike thing goes. He had a two-wheel bike with training wheels in Cabot for about three years before I finally gave up; it got really exhausting forcing him to ride this bike that he hated. And a few times he fell over, and when he falls he doesn’t put his leg out or his arm out, he just falls over in a sitting position. I’m hoping with the pedals off he’ll get used to riding it and then we’ll be able to put the pedals on, basically I’m hoping this goes so much better than last time.

When Jack woke up he climbed into the bed with us and TJ showed him all the pictures of ironing boards that people on Facebook had sent him. I don’t know what that kid’s obsession with ironing boards is, but we sure are feeding it.

Max had said last night that he would make Jack’s breakfast as his present to him, so this morning when he tried to back out of it TJ said he had to ๐Ÿ™‚ The boys ate breakfast and then we went outside to try the bike ride, and it was a success! Before we took the pedals off we had him try the bike as-is. He rode a quarter turn of the pedal and declared himself finished, but TJ and I had him keep on riding. Max and TJ walked beside him sometimes. This bike did teeter like other bikes, but either he’s able to hold himself up a little bit or the training wheels are better. Either way he never fell over, thank the Lord! In the end he rode all the way across the parking lot and all the way back to the bus, at one point racing TJ and Max. Hopefully this time it’ll stick! The little the plastic wheels on his trike are starting to flake off, so it’s not long for this world.

I started making Jack’s birthday cake, and when it was finished cooking we decided to go out to eat a cheeseburger for lunch. We looked through Yelp to find a local burger place, but none of them had a really awesome looking burger, so we headed to TGI Fridays. When we ordered I told the guy it was Jack’s birthday and he said he would bring Jack out an ice cream sundae after his meal. Before our food came out though, we were offered a chicken quesadilla that was mistakenly made! It was a really good quesadilla, it set a really great tone for our lunch. We ordered, and the guy brought out the wrong chicken wings for Max! I know that Max said traditional and they brought him boneless, so he left us with those wings and made Max another order of bone-in wings. We told him then not to bring the sundae for Jack’s birthday, we already had enough free food ๐Ÿ™‚ Our lunch was awesome.

We had several errands to run and on the way over to the post office we saw a homeless guy with a sign. A few days ago Max had said he wanted to one day give a homeless man a meal, and now he asked if he could give this guy our leftovers, so we quickly rolled the window down and gave him a whole bunch of french fries and hot wings, both boneless and bone-in.

We hadn’t yet found a time for Max to spend his Dutch Brothers gift card that church gave him, so we made a point to do that today. We got back to the bus super late, about 4:30 I think. We sent the boys out to play while I finished making the frosting and TJ changed the oil in the generator. That took a lot longer than he expected and we ended up eating cake around 7 p.m. or so. Jack is always so excited for the candle blowing part, so we let him blow them out at least 4 times, and even Max got to blow the candles out once ๐Ÿ™‚

I forgot to measure the boys at Max’s birthday, so here’s their heights today:
Max 4′ 10 1/2โ€
Jack 4′ 1 3/4″

6 June Tuesday

We’re on our way to the next campground and we just went through a swarm of bugs. I was crocheting a basket, not looking at the windshield, but I heard them! They were so loud…almost like a machine gun. And it was just a uniform pattern of bugs all over the windshield! Crazy. TJ told me later that they were bees!!

We stopped halfway to Crater of the Moon to see Twin Falls. We saw a guy base jump off the bridge there at The Visitor’s Center. Then we went to eat at Emma’s Cafe, a Bosnian restaurant. We just ordered the sampler dish which was 5 different kinds of sausage, some pita like breads that were super fluffy, a couple of hamburger patties, and some cabbage slaw. It was all very good. We ordered baklava for dessert. It was made with sugar water and walnuts, as opposed to the Greek style (?) with honey and pistachios. I also got some lemon Turkish Delight which turned out great, and a chocolate bar with strawberries in it.

Driving again and I just ripped out my basket for the third time. I guess I’ve just been too cocky about crocheting a circle. I thought that if I kept checking it every couple of rounds to see if it was laying flat or not I could correct any mistakes I find, but that has not been the case. I don’t know if I haven’t ripped it out far enough, or if I keep not adding as many stitches as I should add. Either way, I don’t want to have to rip this sucker out again. I guess I’ll get pretty serious about counting my stitches from now on. I started off crocheting this basket so Jack would have a basket of toys to leave out. It’s nice for him to have toys during our drives, and I don’t always remember before we close up the back to get him some toys out. So we’ve gone through a few different bags of toys seat-belted next to him on the couch, but those don’t work very well. Of course as soon as I start crocheting this basket I find a basket I love in a thrift store for three bucks. Oh well, I’m sure I can use the practice. And I’ll find another use for the basket I’m making.

When we went to check in the little place smelled like bacon! It was heavenly. I figured we’d eat supper here tonight, but I forgot about our heavy lunch, and we weren’t hungry enough for a huge meal at supper. Maybe tomorrow.

When we went back outside after checking in TJ asked me when I started up the truck. Doh! I I know now why I had that sinking feeling on our two hour drive from Twin Falls…I forgot to turn the truck off after doing the 3 minute routine! I’m so grateful that it doesn’t look like I messed up anything.

After setting up the boys headed off to play Miniature Golf near the camp’s entrance, TJ started working on our route for tomorrow, and I started cutting insulation to put inside all of our cabinets. When it came time for supper I wasn’t ready to stop so TJ set out cheeses and meats for the boys. We all had some fruit salad I’d made up the day before, and we all ate a piece of birthday cake:-) All the jiggling in the warmth in the back of the bus during our drive made the top layer kind of shift to one side. I just shoved it back on top, icing’d the sides and we were good to go. I don’t think I’m going to make this cake recipe again, it’s a little dry. The icing is heavenly, though. It’s my go-to from now on.

After supper we started getting the boys ready for bed, then we left them to finish up by themselves and TJ and I walked around the campground for a date.

7 June Wednesday

We packed up a picnic lunch and headed off to Craters of the Moon. We saw them a little bit on the drive in yesterday, and it really does look as barren as what you would expect to see on the moon. It really reminded me of Lanzarote that we got to visit with Fran and Teresa many years ago. We went into the visitor center first and Max asked about the Junior Ranger program. I’ve mentioned it to him a time or two before but didn’t feel like making him do it, and this time he was interested himself. I thought it was awesome that this place gives out an actual fabric patch when you complete the little booklet about Craters of the Moon. I asked the guy about where we should picnic and then we were off to drive around and see the place. The little walking paths were kind of funny, just a fairly narrow blacktop path through all of this rubble of lava pieces. They suggested we wear long pants and it was a good plan even though it was pretty hot. I’m sure you could really cut yourself up if you fell on that stuff. We got out at a couple of places, one was a hill called Inferno that was much steeper and higher than it looked from the truck, but boy was it beautiful and peaceful up at the top. It was so high you could see so far out over the surrounding areas. I’m so grateful that we get to see God’s beautiful creation on this crazy long trip. We were about ready for lunch and had seen a couple of spots that would do, and then we found this one long picnic table under a tree with a place for our truck to park so that’s where we went. When a car wasn’t driving by you couldn’t hear anything but birds and bees; the silence was wonderful.

After lunch we packed up and thought we were heading home for the day, and then we saw the sign for the caves. I hadn’t read up on this place at all, and so wasn’t prepared for caves, but since they were right here, why not? We’d been told at the Visitor’s Center that they were trying to ward off a bat disease…but we were cleared to go. TJ decided to take Jack to the bathroom instead of going, but after we’d been gone a bit they decided to come too. I had no idea it was such a long walk to the caves or I might have skipped. It really is such a funny walk, and I was grateful for the paved paths; I’m sure walking on all that lava would have worn us out much more than we already were. The first cave we came to was closed and there were hazard signs all around it. The second cave we skipped because it was so rocky, it looked impossible to get into. But we’d come so far I hated to just give up, so we headed out to the third cave and that’s when we heard Jack calling. Right at the beginning I passed a family and asked was the walk worth it and they said the caves were beautiful, but they were really cold! Maybe we should start planning this stuff better?! The four of us finally got to a cave that was open and not too difficult looking to climb into. These are the most natural caves I’ve ever been to. All the other kinds had nice flat walkways and a guide to take you through it; these you were really out on your own. I’m not complaining, I think it’s pretty cool that they’re like this, I just wish I had thought about it before we got there.

When we were done with the caves we packed up and headed back home. Max wanted to play with Legos outside instead of going to the miniature golf again so that’s what he and Jack did, Tj went back to his work, and I went back to cutting insulation for cabinets. After a little while TJ sent Max to check on the little restaurant’s availability, and they said to come on for supper. It was about 5 when we headed over there, and when we were just in the door we heard them talk about how quickly they run out of ribs! Without even sitting down we went ahead and ordered two plates of ribs and a plate of butterfly shrimp. The ribs were very good, but in the end I think we got charged more than we should have for the meal.

There’s not much more to write about this day, TJ and I changed a windshield wiper, the boys did play Miniature Golf again, we all showered and went to bed.

8 June Thursday

Last night and the night before I slept eight solid hours! It was awesome. TJ is not having as much luck though, sadly. We got up and moving not very quickly, as is our wont. Everything was going fine. We pulled into the second gas station that we had picked out and pulled in behind a Humvee. Then we saw that one older gentleman was gassing up that and a van. We had to wait a good while; these last few gas stations people are a lot more likely to just leave their vehicle by the pump and go in the store for quite a while. Max and I went in the store to tool around a bit and then went back out when Tj started gassing up. We headed down the road after that and the minute Tj turned on his wipers to wash the windshield off he let out an exclamation! I looked over and asked him if the windshield wiper was still on the bus or if it had fallen off, and he wasn’t sure! We found a place to pull over and before we got out I asked if he wanted me to run back and get it, he said no. When we got out to the front the wiper was there, just all the way on the other side. It had done a 180 and got stuck over there. We tried a few things and it just was crazy. It seems like we just needed to tighten up the whole wiper assembly. I don’t think that we messed it up yesterday, I guess it was just bound to happen after a while. I guess it’s needs to be another line on the checklist of things to check every once in awhile.

We were going to get to Yellowstone too early to check in, so we looked for a place to pull over. We searched and searched and couldn’t find anything like what we wanted. We finally decided on going to Walmart, and then it was tough to find a parking place, that parking lot was full! We found a spot and I was going to go in and get groceries and then we would eat lunch in the parking lot and then head back to Yellowstone. After a while though there were some Walmart workers milling around and Tj felt a little antsy so we decided just to snack on the road and head on out to Yellowstone.

We checked in, parked and set up. I heated up our Chinese food for lunch, and after a piece of birthday cake we went walking around town. I bought a shirt with a sugar skull moose head and Yellowstone written on it. Tj and I saw a beautiful string of carved fish, but when I asked the shop owner if they were just for decoration or were supposed to be a wind chime he laughed and made a face to the other customer like what a stupid question! I was embarrassed and said in an annoyed tone sorry for insulting you…he said I didn’t insult him…I was so angry at his rude manner that I left. He was trying to tell me where he had another string of fish to look at, but like I’m gonna shop there when he treats me like that.

Boise, Idaho

Wednesday, May 31st, 2017

25 May Thursday

Today we went to the discovery museum, and I really think it was the best discovery museum I’ve ever been to! Usually half or a third of the experiments don’t work, but I only remember 1 or 2 here being out of order, and they had signs announcing that they were out of order.

When we pulled up we saw 3 school busses!!!! Why aren’t these kids in school?! I was trying to plan all the really public attractions for before school finished for the year, but my plan backfired! Fortunately after we’d been there an hour or so all the kids left, and then it was so dead! We were one of only about 5 total families after that. Fun!

When I went to pay I was told I got in free since I was Jack’s helper. Nice. And we could get the military discount. But then two different women had trouble getting the computer to comply, so they finally just let me in for the price of 1 kid! Woot!

The first, and maybe the best part of the museum was the bubble bar. I could’ve played with that forever! There was a wooden bar rigged up to a pulley system that when raised made a sheet of bubble film you could blow on. I think the bubble itself was about 3′ square! It was so awesome. I also liked the smoke track they had to test aerodynamics, the big spring that helped you understand frequencies, the sand-vibrating thing that looked like quicksand, the pendulum with the pen attached so you made spirograph drawings, the pvc tubing that Jack played with a lot…and the list goes on and on!

We stayed there till about 3pm, and then headed to lunch. I found Uncle Guiseppies Diner that looked good; and it was. I bought a 12″ and a 6″ sandwich; one had balsamic vinegar and a variety of meats and cheeses on it, and the other had smoked Gouda, honey mustard, etc. The first was the best. I also bought some pepperoni and pasta to take home. After eating our sandwiches I bought us 2 cannoli for dessert. I’m sure I’ll make a lot of Italians angry for this, but they’re just not my thing. I think it’s like eating whipped cream…it’s kinda bland. The cream inside the ‘cookie’ wasn’t sweet enough for my taste. Ah, well, you can’t win them all!

There was a Burger King in the same parking lot that had a pretty big play place. I figured Jack was about ready for some running around, that kid loves his play places! We stayed there for a while and then went to 3 thrift stores and bought Jack a sports jacket and Upwards shirt, me a lounge chair and 2 pair of shoes, Max jeans, church pants, and a LS button up shirt. What a haul!

26 May Friday

Today we stayed home all day. I think I’ll always be a homebody. I love staying home!

Before bed Max mixed up the dough for a pan pizza.

Max has been complaining that his throat hurts, but it looks normal to me. Also Jack has red spots all over his back and chest. They’re not bright enough for me to even attempt to take a picture, but they’re there.

27 May Saturday

We were going to stay home all day, but Max is itching to complete his Odd Squad outfit and still needs a white button up and a red tie, so we went thrifting again. I bought a few books and another cooler bag, but Max didn’t get to buy anything. He saw a cool extender/grabber arm that he really wanted though.

When we got home Max put the pizza together. I had him preheat the oven on a lower temp because we’re on our last third of propane still. He got it all ready and put it in and I set the timer. It’s been so long since I cooked a deep dish that I couldn’t remember how accurate my timing was in the recipe. After more than 40 minutes, though, I knew something was wrong! I’d forgotten to raise the temp! Doh! Fortunately the pizza cooked just fine and tasted great! The bus was fairly warm after that. I think tomorrow we’re going to have to run the a/c. I didn’t do it this time, but when I made cookies a week or so ago I kept an eye on the inside temperature and was surprised to see that it only went up by 2 degrees even though the oven was on for at least an hour. That was with all the doors and windows open. Wonder how much the temp changes with the a/c on?

28 May Sunday

We went to church and all sat together for the first service. Of course then the guy said the sermon was PG-13!! I decided to chance it since Max and I have read the whole KJV through once…that’s an education I tell you! The sermon talked about the time that Judah (I think) was under siege and two women connived to eat their children because they were starving. Yeah, not a topic every kid is ready to hear, but it was a good sermon.

After first service and a doughnut break I walked the boys over to their building and was anticipating my dual thrift store shopping trip! When I got to Jack’s class, though, there were no teachers. I waited for a bit and talked to a pretty snotty kid who was also waiting. He was pretty incensed that Jack was playing with a stuffed animal he found and didn’t like the fact that he was getting his germs all over it. He said NO ONE in that class played with stuffed animals anymore. I told him no one but Jack! And then I prayed for kindness. The teacher came in and I told her about Jack. She said she was the only teacher there that hour, but she didn’t expect any more kids than the two that were there because it was Memorial weekend. Great. About 15 minutes later there were a total of 12 kids!!! Guess shopping’s out! We helped the kids make a marble maze by glueing straws down to cardstock. After a bit it was time for group time so we lined the kids up and walked them upstairs. It was funny how much like G-lab that classroom was! I enjoyed the songs and the little lesson on Revelation that was given. After a few more things the kids trooped back downstairs for more memory verse work and to wait for their parents.

Since I worked I felt like a little treat, and I still have a hankering for fried chicken. I quickly looked up a place that Yelp said was open and we headed there. I called Tj on the way cause he’d just landed in Memphis. He said he’s coming home tonight!!! Awesome!

Then we pulled into the restaurant and it was closed! Bummer. We headed back home to the beans and rice I had planned, and I figured we might go out to eat for supper.

The white beans I thawed on the counter during church turned out to be white bean soup. Doh! Guess that rice will just go into the freezer now.

After lunch we all took a nap. I can tell the boys are tired…it’s light here until 9:30 or 10pm and I feel bad sending the boys to bed with it so light, but I need to change that. The boys slept well, but I slept in between them so that Max would actually go to sleep, so I slept poorly. When I awoke I realized that Max’s snotty sounding nose wasn’t just allergies like I’ve been thinking…I think he has a cold, and I’m pretty sure I have it now, and of course TJ’s coming home now and will probably get it!!

After napping we headed out to pick up Tj, and then found a BBQ place that was pretty good. The ribs were fine, but the pulled pork and brisket had a really smoky flavor. Tj spied a Cold Stone Creamery in the same strip mall so we headed there next. Then we went to the grocery store for hamburger stuff for tomorrow.

29 May Monday

Today we changed the oil in the bus! I’d never done that before, but Tj made it happen. He’d watched YouTube videos and had ordered everything we needed. I was just the extra set of hands, and the nagger that tried to keep most of the oil off the concrete. It took us a lot longer than the guy on the video needed, but I’m sure the next time will go faster. With less oil on our hands/clothes/etc.

After that we had a lunch of cheese and crackers, and then the boys watched a movie while Tj and I relaxed a bit.

Then we sent the boys outside to play and Tj made cheese stuffed burgers. I cooked bacon (to a crisp, sadly, though it was still pretty good), and then toasted the buns in butter and that bacon grease. Yum. We watched Lost while we ate. We also thawed and ate some of the Dream Pie filling I made back in February, I think.

30 May Tuesday

Jack and I took Tj to the airport this morning at 6am. I haven’t been up at this time in months!

After lounging a bit, and dozing, and Jack doing Gemiini and playing on the ipad a while, we finally got moving about 10:30am. While the boys ate breakfast I planned our day.

First we went to Town Square Mall, because Max really likes going to malls. Though he hardly has any money to spend. But he just came up with a plan that maybe he should just blow 2 of his dollars every month. I talked to Tj about it and we decided blowing $5 every month was more reasonable. He ended up not buying anything at the mall, and I used our $10 Starbucks gift card from Nicole to buy a fruit tea that Max wanted, a slice of lemon bread, a cookies and cream cake pop and a cherry oatmeal bar. We ate some of our snack, and then Jack played at the little playground in the Mall for a bit.

We left there around 3pm and headed to the Post office to pick up Tj’s new watch battery. Then we went to the nearby Freak Alley Gallery which Max also picked out as something he wanted to see here in Boise. After that was lunch at Off Broadway Deli, where we’d tried to go Sunday. I told her that Yelp listed them as open on Sundays and she said she knew but didn’t know why they said that. I bought 2 fried wings, 2 legs, a breast, 1/2 lb of french fries, 2 small drinks and a medium drink for me and it came to $14!! I was so surprised…that’s a great price! And the chicken was awesome! Nice and salty. The fries were really good too.

Afterwards we went to Home Depot to get some stuff to hopefully clean up the oil off the concrete under the bus. Then we went to Fred Meyer for groceries. I shopped as quickly as I could so Max could get back in time to watch Odd Squad.

After Odd Squad I sent the boys to the playground and I read my phone outside in my new chair. They played for half an hour or so, but then Max said it was so hot (it got to 94 today), so they came and played on the vacant pad next to us. They filled up buckets of water and squirted each other and the sidewalk. After a bit Max says to Jack do you want to see some magic? Jack says yes. Max says close your eyes and count to 20. Then Max pours a bucket of water on Jack. Jack continues counting…after he catches his breath from that ice cold water!