Sunday, March 26th, 2017

18 March Saturday

I told Max to get the jet pack for our trip over to Vegas, and later saw that he had put it by my purse. When we went to leave TJ asked why it was in its regular place. Jack is so “helpful” he put it back where it goes.

Jack read a sign on our drive that said “Do Not Enter” and he said “Do yes enter.” Antonym!

We didn’t really have a plan for the Hoover Dam, we just wanted to see it. It was just as well that they weren’t having tours this day. We walked all along the dam and it was really impressive. The color of the water was beautiful, too. The bridge we’d driven over on our way to Vegas the other day was fun to see from the ground. At some point we saw someone there filling up their bottled with water and pouring it out and the wind was blowing up the curve of the dam and blew the water up into the air!

When we were finished walking we got ice cream and started looking for a restaurant. Fried chicken sounded good to me, so Tj picked out the Chicken Shack because it had such good reviews. For some reason I was just thinking of a piece of fried chicken and not hot wings, so I was a little thrown off when we got there and were ordering. Their buffalo chicken wings were awesome, their fries were out of this world, and the potato salad was really good too. I got my half of the wings with chili lime sauce, and they were okay, but not at all what anybody wanted.

By the time we were finished with lunch we had enough time to drive back to Vegas, find the parking garage, find the zipline place and not much more time than that. I didn’t want to stand in line for however long and then ride a zipline with something holding me face down without making a bathroom stop, so we looked around for a public restroom. There aren’t that many of those around this place. I ended up going into a casino, but I almost always make Jack go when I go and Tj wasn’t sure if we could take Jack into the casino. I went to the bathroom and then we all walked back to the zipline place and left TJ and Jack. The information about the zip lines said that we had to be there at 4 but we might wait as long as an hour before our turn came. In the end we waited an hour and a half, but boy was it worth it! I would ride that again in a heartbeat, it was so much fun!

I hope I haven’t ruined our scale by bringing it on the bus, but we don’t have a place to store it that’s easy to reach and where it can lay flat. It seems to not be measuring correctly, so now I’ve taken the batteries out and just put it in storage under the dinette seat. When TJ bought the tickets the line we wanted to go on said you had to weigh a minimum of 80 pounds. We were pretty sure that’s how much Max weighed, but it’s been a long time since we weighed him. When we got to the zipline wait line TJ saw that there was an outdoor scale at a restaurant nearby. They claim something like if you weigh over 300 pounds to give you your meal for free, but in any case there was a scale right there! We told Max to get on it and checked his weight πŸ™‚ I don’t know what we were going to do at that point, it’s not like we could leave him and Jack out there by themselves while TJ and I rode the zipline if Max was underweight! The scale said he would be fine so we went and got in line. When we got inside the structure there was a woman weighing everyone separately. Max passed that test, but the lady told me that she made a note to add 40 pounds to his weight so that he wouldn’t get stuck out on the zipline. In a way I wanted him to get stuck because how awesome would that be?! Ziplines always go so quickly I don’t ever get to see as much as I would like to see when I’m on them. So the waiting begin; we got suited up and I chatted with TJ on text, and after a while I looked up some memes on the phone to pass the time. When it was finally our turn I really wasn’t nervous at all. What a fun ride! And Max did get stuck! So I and the other two women who went on the zipline at the same time had to lay there on the tables while a guy hooked himself up to a harness and then hand-over-hand pulled himself out to where Max was and drug Max back. What an experience!

When we got down and found TJ I realized that Max had gotten stuck right over him and Jack! It was so cool; TJ said all the people were yelling for Max and so excited for him. I couldn’t tell that because we landed right over a band playing such loud music! What an awesome experience. I was so thirsty so we started heading back to the truck and stopped at a shop to buy something to drink. We passed several of the same people we had seen earlier…I was so surprised by the amount of nudity that was allowed out in public! I know this is Vegas, and I knew it wasn’t a place for kids, but I didn’t realize the level of nudity that was allowed. She was a rather large woman wearing only pasties on top sitting in a wheelchair with a sign next to her that said retired stripper and a bucket for collecting money. There were lots of scantily clad men and women that were just walking around trying to get you to take your picture with them so then you would pay them. We headed back to the truck and on the way I saw some street performers that looked like something our family could enjoy. There were three guys and it looked like they were getting ready to start dancing, so I asked TJ to stop for a minute. The music cranked up and then the biggest guy proceeded to turn his arm around so that he dislocated his shoulder! All of us were so horrified! But Tj and I were also laughing our heads off! After that I was pretty much done with Vegas. We went back to the truck and got back to the bus at 6:45 p.m.

19 March Sunday

We slept late, and it was wonderful. For the second night in a row we told Jack to come into our bed when he woke up. We all need more sleep, and I think if he gets more sleep in the morning it will do him best. Somehow naps don’t materialize, and neither does going to bed early. We didn’t rush around doing anything, and I left around 10:30 or 11 to go check out the Goodwills. I found a beaded bracelet at the first store that I think I can use to make a bracelet like the one I lost, and it was only $3. I had my eye on a bag of beads from Amazon but that was $15, so if this works it will be great. I got back home around 3 p.m. We sent the kids out to play at the playground that’s within sight of our windows, and wasted time for another hour. It was lovely just relaxing.

At 4:30 I started making smothered potatoes. They came out tasting like Monmon’s I think, but they don’t look like hers. I think I have the fire up too high and stir them too much because they’re more broken up than hers. But they are awesome! TJ cooked our steaks on our little grill and they were awesome. We ate supper and then watched the Hooper sermon from November. That’s the last thing I think we’ll watch from FBC. Oh, I just remembered we’re not planning on staying a month at many places in the future, so maybe we’ll go ahead and watch the rest of those sermons. I think we have three or four from FBC that we haven’t seen. Otherwise we have a creation DVD set I bought. We’ll just have to see.

20 March Monday

It’s 11 o’clock and we’ve been on the road for half an hour or more. While Tj fueled up at the base I headed to the wrong gas station! We got down the road and had to drive 360Β° around to get onto the interstate. Three-quarters of the way through that turn the freezer door opened and all the ice fell out onto the floor. Poop.

21 March Tuesday

School, including writing Austin a thank-you card for the books he leant Max. Lunch.
Then we drove out to the Pacific Ocean and put our toes in. Driving here is more frustrating than in Tucson…I’m gonna miss that place for this reason!

I made taco nachos for supper again, and this time I used Laura’s recipe for white cheese dip to pour on top. Oh were they good! After we got the boys in bed TJ and I had a Walking Dead marathon and then Tj scheduled Uber for the morning since he’ll be leaving for the airport at 5:15am.

22 March Wednesday

I was making pb & j sandwiches and Jack was watching me. Finally he slowly and deliberately said, “I want jelly in my mouth, please Mom.” I got that boy some jelly! We’re still pushing the full sentences…and it seems like we’ll be pushing them for a few more years before they take hold full time. We’re also working hard on the on/in/over/under stuff. He’ll do it all one day, it just takes time!

In other news, I’m pretty sure Jack lost a receipt of a watch I wanted to return. He asked me if he could play with it and I said no. Now a few hours later I can’t find it at all. He put his flag down the back of the dinette seating today, and it’s unreachable now. Tj says it’s a favorite place of his, so that may be where the receipt is. I’m also pretty sure I brought 4 steak knives on the bus and now we only have 3…Jack!!!

I decreed that everyone was taking a nap today. Attitudes are still not in the right place. When we got up from our nap Max said that there were two bees in our bus, but he was so calm while he said it. In the past any sight of bees or wasps nearby has sent him into a frenzy, but this entire time he was calm. I was able to open the window and they both flew out, thank the Lord. I like bees, but I don’t want them in a confined space with me!

23 March Thursday

We had a nice relaxing school day today. I texted with TJ off and on during school. When we first started traveling and TJ was brand new flying for FedEx it seemed that the next nine months or so of his time there would be spent mostly sitting reserve in Memphis. Since he had so much time on his hands I sent him a couple of soup recipes and he made two batches. He filled up his crash pad freezer with soup, and then he got called out to fly! Now the last couple of times he’s been there he hasn’t even looked for flights but they book him to fly. It cracks me up, but I’m sure it’s not very funny to his pad mates! He had a few things to do this time at the beginning of this reserve trip. He figured with as tired as he was he would take a few days to relax and get that work done, and then he would start looking for a flight. Also, FBC has been having trouble with a computer he put together so they asked him if they could drive it out to where he was and would he work on it for them. He was happy to do so and he had nothing on his horizon, then before he knew it he got called out on a flight! I know he feels bad that he can’t work on the computer now, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.

After school today Jack and I hit up 2 Goodwills, but it’s just not the same here. The first Goodwill I had to park on the street, and when I went to pay the meter, which I have only ever done a couple of times in my life, there was a sign saying it was broken. Then I wasn’t sure if it was OK for me to park there. I went into the store and asked another customer since the clerk wasn’t available, and she said it was fine. Jack asked to go to the bathroom while we were there but I saw a sign saying no public restrooms. Ugh. The next store did have some parking off the street, but we had to park pretty far away. I asked about a restroom, and as the guy was showing us to it I saw another sign saying no public restrooms. Huh. Guess I’ll do more research before going to other Goodwills.

In other news I found my bracelet!! It was in the bag I keep in the back of the truck. I’m so excited! Now to figure out how to solve my clasp problem.

24 March Friday

We were looking at cat and dog pictures and talking about them, and Jack said “That dog is make a supper.” He”s still trying out articles and verb forms. I really think one day he’ll speak correctly, but he’s almost 10 now and still very rarely uses a full sentence, not to mention saying it completely correctly.

The Lord gave me some verses this morning about traffic here in San Diego…”I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves against me round about. Arise, O Lord; save me, O my God:”
Psalms 3:6‭-‬7a. And then it goes on to talk about God breaking their teeth, which is what I really want to do.

We left the bus at 9:45 to go see the USS Midway, and arrived around 10:20. It was impressive. More than 4,000 people can live on it at once, but such cramped spaces! Of course it’s just about how we’re living now πŸ™‚ I let Max lead us around. Again, I’d have gone in an orderly manner and read every plaque, but I knew that wouldn’t go over well with either kid, so I mostly followed. We never made it to the video showing, but we saw so much! The docents gave such interesting talks, too, about landing a plane on the ship and working the anchor. I loved the 1:48 scale model made of plexiglass…it was fascinating! I also enjoyed seeing how the ship had changed over the years…it had started smaller and they added more and more to it. We got the free headsets but I hardly listened to any of the info. Max did, though, he went through the junior sailor program they did and earned his wings after. I think he enjoyed hearing the audiofiles, but think he felt a little too old for the wings. Topside there were two ceremonies being performed. There was a plane up there with both of its wings folded up over its body, and a plane on the other deck whose wheels folded into its body. Planes are awesome!

The night before Max had asked a couple of times if there were any flight simulators onboard. I’d read some about them, but didn’t elaborate to him. There were about 6 different flight decks he and Jack got to sit in and flip all the switches, and there were 2 paying rides. The first one was just a ride, but the second one was interactive!! The only problem was you had to have 2 riders. I would never leave Jack by himself, but Max and I were both really worried that Jack would freak out on the ride. Some of the simulators were going really crazy! Max would be the one flying it, but if Jack started freaking out what could he do? We looked for a bit but couldn’t find anyone else looking for a lone rider. I saw someone promising, but then she offered to keep Jack so Max and I could ride together. Max asked me worriedly if I’d ever let anyone else keep Jack like that…he’s such a worrier sometimes! We decided to wait a bit and come back later, and about this time Jack started fussing and asking to ride that ride! That doesn’t always mean what it’s supposed to mean…and what would we do if he started freaking out when the guy started strapping him in?? We came back half an hour later and when we got close to the ride Jack again started saying he wanted to ‘ride the blue one’. Now it took some convincing to get Max to go. I don’t know how much of it was fear of Jack and how much was fear of going all the way around in that thing! Either way I almost forced him to go. We paid our $16 and got in line and Jack never wavered. He smiled so big when he was putting on his seatbelt! I videoed the footage of what was going on inside the enclosed simulator, and Jack had a good time the whole time. Max wanted to do it again but I said no. We had such a good time there!

We left at 2pm. I’d found Valentine’s Mexican Food which had good ratings on Yelp, and was around the corner from the Donut shop. Awesome! Now to make it there and see what parking was like! I drove around the block and found a space, and then parallel parked all by myself! Woot! I did brush the curb, but I did a good job if I do say so myself. We passed the doughnut shop on the way to the restaurant and it was closed until 5pm!! What the heck??!! Lunch was good though, and the salsa bar had some great salsa.

After that we headed to the beach…we got there about 4pm and stayed till 6:15. As Max was playing he said I’m just waiting for some unsuspecting pedestrian to pedestrianize by. Heh.

Afterwards we went to Walmart for another bike helmet for Max…he needs an adult size. We picked up a frozen pizza and were still eating supper at 9pm. And I wonder why we’re so tired! Though I must say I think we’re finally catching up.

In other news, the last couple of times that we parked the bus we’ve been able to estimate the number of support blocks we needed under the tires to get our bus pretty well level. We have an auto leveler on the bus, but it doesn’t seem to work well. Tj has tried to calibrate it a couple of times and that hasn’t fixed the problem.

25 March Saturday
We did school today since we had our field trip yesterday. We only have 24 days of school left, and I’m hoping we can keep it at that. We started at 10am and I figured Max would take all day. I let him do 2 units and then play 15 minutes of Minecraft and continue that cycle till he was finished. He actually finished at 2pm, even though we took about an hour for lunch. Not bad!

After school we all walked down/rode our bikes to the entrance of the park where there’s a bigger playground. Of course the first day we go somebody rented it out and there’s a bouncy castle and all kinds of cake and stuff. Oh well. Jack didn’t fuss too much when I told him the bouncy castle wasn’t for us

Jack is now calling another woman Mommy. Traitor!

We’ve just seen the second wedding here at the campground!

26 March Sunday

5:14am I just woke up hearing creaking on Max’s ladder. I looked down the hall, but it’s dark so I couldn’t see anything. I shone my flashlight and I see Jack’s little head peeping over the rope and Max’s curtain. I made him come down, go potty, get in my bed and he’s yawning as big as his whole head. Hopefully we’ll both go back to sleep now.

Now, 5 minutes later, the dehumidifier beeped about 20 times to let me know it was full! Once would’ve been enough! I got up to empty that, and now hopefully back to sleep!

I’m reading my book and Jack just said Mom, get out of bed you old lazybones!

I made pancakes for the boys’ breakfast. Now we’ve just watched What’s In the Bible for church…I love that show! Looks like we may not get out of our pj’s today!! Success!

Sunday, March 26th, 2017

16 March Thursday

We pulled out at 10:20 and the mileage is 8888.

After we’d been on the road a while a little white car passed us and just hung out in front of us in the passing lane. A semi came up behind them somewhat quickly, and then gave a really long honk at them, but they never budged! I don’t understand at all why people just stay in that lane! And then blocking in someone else to boot!

TJ had looked at our route for the day and saw that there was an In-N-Out Burger about halfway to our stop. There was also a gas station and he looked at it briefly, but thought that we would probably just go straight to Las Vegas. When we got closer two our mid-way stop we decided to get gas first, because it’s exit was before the restaurant, and then we’d go stop and eat lunch. Our drive was short enough that this would be a good break. We never stop for food when we’re driving, I always make us something on the road. This seemed like a good change to our routine. While we were driving I checked out the In-N-Out and decided we had a few options for parking either in the parking lot or in a nearby parking lot. TJ had already looked at the Pilot and saw that there was an RV lane so he felt we were set. We turned off the highway, turned right onto the side street and turned right into the Pilot. Tj needed to take an immediate left to go into the RV lane, but I was thrown off because there were two gas pumps there and a UPS truck was parked by one. The other lane looked too narrow and the curve too tight for us to make it. I said to TJ I don’t think you’ll fit in there, and so he just pulled in straight. Then we were kind of stuck. There was no drive completely around the building so now we would have to just make our way around the pumps and back out. Before I could figure out what I thought we should do TJ turned left to go through the regular pumps and make a u-turn back around the opposite way into the RV pump area. He made it almost all the way, and then realized that he couldn’t cut hard enough. He ended up backing us up a couple of feet three different times and then we were in the RV lane just fine. When we got out there were two guys in the lot next to the gas station that clapped and told him what a great job he did and that they had had money riding on us. We were both still a little shaken up and were just glad that everything worked out. We went back to check on the truck and he had rubbed the front bumper with the bike tires, but other than that we were completely fine! I was so impressed with his maneuvering today. He sure manages to get us out of some very tight spots.

I later asked him if there was anything he wanted me to do differently in the future. He said he shouldn’t have listened to me when I said he couldn’t fit in the RV lane, but he should have listened to me when I said he couldn’t fit through the regular pumps! Ugh! When we head into a situation I’ll try to help, but when I see he’s committed to a plan of action I just sit back and be quiet. I guess these are just things we have to go through as new-ish campers.

We checked in at the campsite at 3:15.

17 March Friday

TJ got us a Groupon for the Bodies exhibit so that’s where we headed today. Finding the parking garage was a feat! But I only had to drive around the block one extra time for us to figure out where it was. It was amazing to see all these once live people reduced to muscle and tendon and bone. It is amazing to think about what we take for granted, every time you move your hand or your leg or your back or twist your arm around opening the door, it’s crazy to think how many different muscles and tendons and joints and ligaments you’re actually moving! As usual I could have stayed there a lot longer and read every sign about every different display, but nobody else in my family feels the same way about any museum. πŸ™‚

Nothing was really calling to me for lunch, but it was time for us to eat. I didn’t want to just get some little something here, there were so many awesome sounding places, but then we run into that problem everywhere we go. I’m sure we shouldn’t eat out so much, but if this is the only time we do this trip we want to take full advantage of it! There are so many awesome things in the world to eat, and I sure am doing my share to try them all. We ended up deciding to go to Gordon Ramsay’s BurGR restaurant. We walked over there and only waited in line for about 10 minutes. I’d read a couple of reviews and already knew pretty much what I wanted. TJ added an appetizer and we were set. The ahi tuna sliders we’re okay, but TJ enjoyed them. The gooey fries were the star of the show! Fries with lots of vintage white cheddar, smoked gouda and toscano salami with an over easy egg on top; if I had known I would have made that my meal so I didn’t have to share with anybody! We bought two burgers as well to split among the four of us and I thought they were good, but nothing touched those fries.

When Max heard we were coming to Las Vegas he was so excited, it’s the first time he’s shown real excitement about someplace on our trip before we even got there. When I asked him what he was most excited about he said it was the architecture. I don’t even have anything to say to that. He said he was excited to go take a picture in front of the original ‘Welcome to Las Vegas’ sign. He wanted to show that to his friends, so that’s what we did next. I didn’t realize it but there’s a little parking spot right next to the sign because everybody wants a picture with that sign! Just like at Devil’s Bridge people were waiting in line for their turn to take a picture. We got a couple of just him and a couple as a family and then headed back to the bus.

On the way into town this morning the architecture was amazing I have to admit. One of the things that caused almost all of us to have heart palpitations was seeing the roller coaster on top of the high-rise. You could see the car go down the angled slope, stop, go back up, and go back down again several times. My head knows that that thing has to be safe for it to be an actual ride here in America, but my heart and my stomach felt like they would both come out my throat if I tried to ride that.

Sunday, March 26th, 2017

11 March Saturday

After supper last night when we were all getting into bed TJ remembered he needed to go dump. That ended up being a fiasco, and when he was finished and came in for the night he tripped over the fan, it broke, and he fell down. That was the final straw. He left to go buy another fan at Walmart and we were all asleep when he got back. I didn’t know what time he got back so I didn’t wake him up this morning.

We’re all so tired these days. I feel like we don’t plan a lot to do, and each thing is interspersed with a long break of driving, but even so we’re all fairly grumpy. I don’t want this bus trip to be a drudgery. We had 3 places we wanted to see today, but we decided to pick our favorite and only do that. I’m not even looking at the other 2 things I wanted to do. We’ll have to catch them next time…if there is a next time.

Because we were playing it so much by ear I packed lots of little oranges (we need to eat/freeze all our produce before we get to CA) and a bottle of water for each of us in the backpack. It worked out just fine, but a few granola bars and more water than that would have been better. We got to the place around 11:45 and started looking for a parking spot near the hike. The hike out to Devil’s Bridge was 1.8 miles each way and we didn’t want Jack to have to walk much more than that. We cruised the parking lot which only held about 20 cars and then gave up and cruised down the street to park on the side of the road along with a hundred or so other people. We were three quarters of the way to the end when TJ realized the best plan would be to drop us off in the parking lot and then park on the street and come meet us. That way we could make one last bathroom trip with Jack and be ready to go at about the same time that he got back. I made a u-turn, we switched seats and when we got back to the parking lot lo and behold there was a beautiful space under a shady tree! We got out and all went to the bathroom; it was essentially a hole in the ground but it did have a toilet seat over it, so that was nice. At this point I was thinking we needed more nourishment for this hike since we’d already driven an hour and a half to get there. It had been at least that long since the boys had eaten, and Tj and I had only had a cranberry orange scone apiece. I found a few almonds I always keep in my purse for just such an emergency and we headed out.

The first part of the hike was kind of annoying because it was open to four-wheel-drive vehicles, so every so often we have to move to one side of the road or the other as they noisily pass us. The whole walk was just dust, it was so sandy that I could feel it in my toes. Since the heel came off my hiking boots yesterday I was just wearing my tennis shoes, and there’s a big mesh part on top. When I got home my toes were orange from all of that orange dust. The first half was easy though, it was for the most part fairly flat, broken up here and there by big boulders and one time a small crevasse in the middle of the road. When we got to the halfway point though, that’s where it got a little trickier. Sometimes we walked over lots of hand-sized pebbles and other times we walked on step-like rocks. All in all it wasn’t hard, it just was long. Right at the end there were two very steep places and at the first one someone let their dog loose. I didn’t realize it at first but that’s what it was pushing up against my calves while I was helping Jack up. He’s got pretty good balance, but he’s still a 9 year old kid with Down Syndrome who doesn’t understand how careful he needs to be. I finally just told him to turn around and sit down while we waited for the dog to push past us. I was so annoyed those people had let their dog off the leash, and then there was a person ahead of us at the top of the cliff and a person behind us, both calling the dog! Honestly I would have kicked the dog if I thought I wouldn’t have lost my balance. Of course the whole time I’m remembering Max blacking out after the whole Don and Dar dog incident just a month ago.

So we finally got to the top with no more trouble and it was a beautiful sight. There were beautiful sites all along the walk, but this is the first time I’ve ever seen a natural bridge in person, much less been able to walk out on it. We decided Max and I would go stand on the bridge and TJ would take a picture, and then we’d come back and TJ would go wait in line for his picture, and we wouldn’t bring Jack out there. Everyone else there wanted their picture on the bridge, and they were all in a line, taking their turns. Nice. When we were the second to first people in line a girl ran out to the girl ahead of us and said okay, here’s the plan, you take your picture by yourself, then we’ll switch out, I’ll take my picture by myself, then the girl over there is going to run around and somebody’ll take our picture all together as a group, then we run back and I take the camera and I’ll take her picture by herself. That’s boloney! I was frustrated, but there wasn’t really much I could do. It really does amaze me that some people have no regard for other people in the world. So that’s what they did, they took four times as long as anybody else out there took. There was a guy at the tail end of the line by this time who yelled a few times “Switch out, time for somebody else to take a picture”, but these girls didn’t seem to mind at all. I, of course being the bossy mom that I am, took the time to explain to Max why we don’t do this to other people and how unfair it is when you’re on the receiving end of it. We finally got our pictures and headed back up.

When I was walking back to TJ I was standing on a steepish stair-like ledge and passing by this dog that Max had just passed by and the stupid thing jumped out at me and growled and barked at me! I don’t know what I did today to make dogs angry but I know what they did to make me angry! When we got back to Tj he asked about taking Jack out there. I thought it would be fine, but I think Max was pretty tired, I could see he was getting emotional and he said not to bring Jack out there. The bridge really was pretty wide and I didn’t think there was any real risk with TJ holding Jack’s hand, so they headed out there.

After we had all the pictures we wanted, ate all the oranges and drank all but one water we headed back out. TJ told Max he could go ahead, but to stop every once in awhile to give us time to catch up. We walked back down without any problems with Jack, thankfully. We went out on a secondary ledge we had seen but had decided to forgo on the way up. I was surprised but not alarmed that Max didn’t wait there for us. We started walking down and this first part was so slow because it was the rockiest. After a while TJ said walk at your own pace ahead of us, you’ll probably run into Max pretty quickly. I have a lot of faith in Max, he seems pretty level headed in these types of situations. There have been more of these situations since we’ve been on this trip…I really believe I can trust him to make good decisions, but he’s not the only one I have to think about. An adult can overpower him, or he could have an accident, or he could just get lost. I don’t want to hover, he needs to learn independence, but how far to push/let him push is the answer. When we were in AR I knew our Wal-mart and felt comfortable with letting him go to another part of the store without me, but when we’re in a new town I don’t always like the feel of the grocery stores. And campgrounds are the same way. I do a lot of praying these days! I wasn’t really worried about him walking ahead to the truck, but then I couldn’t stop thinking about him either.

I ended up going three quarters of the way back to the truck before I found him! And halfway to him I realized I was the only one with any water or car keys, and Jack probably needed more water than any of us, his face was a little red and ours wasn’t. Anyway, I finally found Max and we sat on the side of the road waiting till TJ and Jack caught up. Max tried to hitch a ride at one point when a jeep full of girls drove by. I told them that I had already told him he couldn’t hitchhike because who knew what kind of lunatics were in their vehicle! They all laughed and one of them said oh we’re really nice, I’m a teacher, and we talked back and forth for a minute or so before they drove on.

When we got back to the truck and had our fill of water we started looking for a place to eat. We left the park around 4 and headed to a Mexican place that was okay, but nothing special. I ordered the queso fundido, but I need to stop ordering that. I got hooked on it because one of the first restaurants I ate it at put chorizo in it, but not a lot of them do that. This restaurant’s version was just cheese dip. Nothing special, and I wouldn’t have ordered it if I’d known that’s what it was. TJ got the best dish, carne asada. The guacamole that came as a side was awesome by itself, and even better when all of the stuff was rolled up into a fajita. Max’s order looked awesome too and was huge! We had decided he and Jack would split, we’re trying to lesson our cost at restaurants since we eat out so much more now, and normally we don’t need to order that much food because we don’t have a whole lot of room for leftovers in the bus anyway. So we only ordered 3 dishes. Max’s was a breakfast quesadilla. It must have been stuffed with about 6 scrambled eggs! There was also bacon and a lot of cheese in there. I’m really going to have to make that one day, it was pretty good. After that we found a parking space near some shops and I shopped a little bit but didn’t see anything I had to have. We needed to go to Walmart to return the fan TJ bought because it wasn’t noisy enough, although we’ve also decided to have Max start using his Bible-phone as a noise machine at night. We need more of a sound buffer for him because of what we want to watch on TV at night. We returned the fan and bought a few groceries and TJ had a hankering for some ice cream so we bought that too. I got a chance to use my new ice cream scoop that I got at Goodwill at the same time as I bought all of our other utensils. We all showered when we got in because all of our clothing was so full of dust. I washed all the clothes the boys and I wore after everybody was done with showers. TJ and I watched a couple of episodes of Chuck before I couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore.

12 March Sunday

We were supposed to get up leisurely this morning, but my phone changed time zones even though Arizona doesn’t. Nobody else’s phone changed, so who knows what’s up with that. That means my alarm woke me at 6:30 instead of 7:30. Ugh! We laid in bed for a few hours and that was lovely. The boys were fairly quiet as well. I made lunch from a hummus mix that I’ve had for a little while, pickles, olives, and cheese and crackers. When everything was laid out TJ said he felt sick so he ended up not eating lunch with us. After that we watched the creationist video for church since we didn’t have access to the last few FBC downloads available. When that was over it was noon and we needed to get serious about leaving because check-out was at one. We packed everything up while the boys played on the tiny little playground here, and drove through the gate at 12:57. Perfect timing! Now we’re on our way to Williams and on to see the Grand Canyon. I’m so excited to see this! This is our first of the top three spots we picked for this bus trip.

13 March Monday

We got to the Grand Canyon at 11. But the trip there was a pain…for some reason the heat was on in the truck, full blast! No matter what we did we couldn’t get it to go off/lower the temp/lessen the force of air blowing. Ugh.

The Canyon was beautiful. We hiked along the rim from the Visitor’s Center to the place where the food was. Food…always a great motivator for us! We did some climbing out onto ledges. At one point when Jack was with Tj standing right at the edge (he’s had no fear of heights since the museum we went to in San Antonio with Robin and Dave) Jack said, “Fly!” Talk about make your heart stop! Tj told him he couldn’t fly, he was a boy, and Jack said, “Bird” and started flapping his arms like wings. He does this a lot and it’s always been so cute…till he’s standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon!!! We were doubly sure to firmly hold his hand after that!

Tj told us we were halfway to the restaurant area, and then when we got to the actual halfway point it was a little discouraging! But we made it. The first place we went to said they closed at 2 and if we weren’t already on the list they wouldn’t take us. There was a place about a 10 minute walk that closed at 3 and another past that that closed at 4. We got to the first one around 2:15 and had a 10 minute wait for a table. Tj got the winner dish with a steak sandwich. The steak was tough, but the flavor was wonderful! I got tacos that were fine, but I’d never order them again. The slaw on top was too much for the amount of chicken. But the fries that came with the boys’ mac and cheese were the best I’d ever eaten!

After we got back home we all changed into our swimsuits and headed over to the hot tub/swimming pool.

14 March Tuesday

We hemmed and hawed about what to do today, and if we were going back to the Grand Canyon today, or if we were ever going back. It was really beautiful and awesome and awe inspiring, but after walking a mile or two along the rim the view was the same as where we started…it’s just that vast! I did love seeing the bridge far in the distance that spanned the river at the bottom, but we’re so tired; I think more emotionally tired than physically tired. I know I’m repeating myself, but we really are just tired to the bone around here. In the end we decided to do nothing today.

And that nothing included the boys going to the playground across the street, TJ watching numerous youtube videos to see if he could fix the truck’s A/C, him scheduling an appointment and then taking the truck to the shop and being told they couldn’t fix it but confirming what the problem was, Tj ordering the part we needed to be sent to our next stop, me scoring us a tour inside someone’s camper to see if we want to buy that one, me making 3 meals and cleaning up from all of them, me doing laundry and various other housekeeping things I do every day, us going on a family bike ride, Tj and me going on a ‘date’ to the grocery store. You know, nothing.

Later this day we realized Max actually got sunburned at the GC! The back of my neck felt warm when we got back yesterday, but really, if I didn’t sunburn how could he??!! There was no denying, though, under his eyes was a little swollen. Bad parents!

15 March Wednesday

We’re still trying to take it easy a little bit. Monday was a real doozy! We got up, got ready and headed out to the Grand Canyon again. We were both unsure how to make the decision whether to go again or not, but really, who knows when we’ll be back? We also debated long and hard about whether to get a helicopter ride over the canyon. I thought the helicopters went down through the canyon and that really made it important to me. I think that is something that we would all remember forever. But it was so expensive! TJ did a little research and thought that the helicopters don’t go down in the canyon, they only fly over it. As much fun as that would be, it made it easier for me to agree that we should skip it. Pros of the ride: it’s a 30 to 45-minute helicopter ride, but the con was it was almost $300 per person!

Anyway, we packed some granola bars and water bottles and headed out again. Tj showed me how to manually adjust the a/c lever up inside the console of the truck so we didn’t have to drive with Hell-like conditions the whole way there.

I wanted to be able to walk down into the canyon. I knew we wouldn’t be able to go very far down, but I wanted to go as far as we could. So we drove the hour out there, and another half an hour or so getting to the right place and looking for a parking spot. Again, for Jack’s sake we wanted to park kinda close so we wouldn’t end up carrying him out of the GC. We circled around a little bit and TJ used his parking spot finder magic and found us a place not too far from the start of the trail. We started hiking sometime around noon and got to the lower tunnel at 12:45. The hike down was as easy as it could get…except for the parts that weren’t. There were about 3 or 4 places where the trail was still in shadow and the path was pure mud. This wasn’t such a big deal except for the fact that apparently my tennis shoes have zero traction left! I couldn’t step on the mud at all or I slipped like crazy! So down was super easy, but going back up was deceptively hard! The slope seemed so gradual when we were going down, but it was just continuous going back up. My legs felt fine, but my lungs were working really hard!

The only other thing that we wanted to see was tower that TJ read about on another part of the Grand Canyon’s rim. We piled into the truck and figured we’d quickly see that and then have lunch. After we’d driven 10 or so minutes we saw a sign saying that it was a 25-mile drive away, and the speed limit was 25 miles an hour! We debated back and forth whether it was worth it, neither of us had strong feelings about that and it was getting on to lunch time. Neither of us could tell how serious the other one was about wanting to see it or not caring, and in the end we went ahead and drove there. It was a neat place to see, and another whole side of the Grand Canyon. We looked around for a little while and then decided to check out their snack shop for lunch. He and I ended up getting sandwiches there that were pretty good, and the boys split a pizza. We also shared two pieces of pre-made pie between the four of us. The Oreo pie was a clear winner over the Hershey’s pie.

Friday, March 24th, 2017

4 March Saturday

I wanted to lay around and just stay home today, but I needed to get my passport taken care of. We don’t have plans to go into Mexico, but if we wanted to things would be easier if we all had current passports. TJ got me all fixed up with the paperwork, so Jack and I headed out around 10 or 10:30 to get my photo taken and mail it off. We did that and hit one Goodwill, and then went to Serial Grillers for the second time. We just got a large Bone Crusher pizza and fries. I brought freezy packs because I knew the pizza would sit in the truck all day while Jack and I shopped at as many Goodwill’s as we could fit in. We had a good time.

TJ recently got Max a GroupMe account and this was the first time we really put it to the test. I texted Max a few times after I left and he didn’t respond. Finally TJ texted me, he’d just gotten into Japan I think. I asked him if he could get Max’s attention or if I needed to just go home. Finally Max realized what was going on and texted me back, so all is well. I think it’s now fixed so it alerts Max when I’m texting. During all that I found some awesome cutlery for the bus! Now we have many forks that we can use, not just a set I like and a set and a half I don’t like πŸ™‚ I don’t think I’ve logged about it yet, but sadly I think Jack threw away one of Monmon’s forks. Somehow I ended up with just one of her set here on the bus and the rest was a cheap set I bought at Walmart just for camping. Several months ago when we first started and were using a lot of paper plates and sometimes plastic forks I think Jack dumped it in the garbage can along with his plate! Oh well, I guess that’s how it goes. πŸ™

5 March Sunday

This was our last Sunday at this church. We’ve made some really good friends here, the ladies I’ve enjoyed talking to are Amy, the preacher’s wife, Karen, the children’s coordinator, and Sarah, a fellow camper while she waits for her house to be built. Max has made a few friends too, and Jack loves the playground that is between the two buildings. He gets to play on it between every church service.

Sunday night was the final race. The first Sunday we were here they handed out blocks of wood to all the kids for a pinewood derby. Neither Max nor Jack won; Jack had a blast, and Max kept his temper pretty well, I think.

I am definitely going to miss the drive to church. It’s super short, but I’m always amazed at the view. When we cross the road the valley opens up and you can see mountains in the distance and hills all in the valley. The other Sunday it was raining far off and the rainbows were tremendous!

7 March Tuesday

My alarm went off at 4:50 a.m. but TJ told me to check FlightAware to see if he was on time, and their flight had been delayed a few hours. It’s really hard to figure out what’s going on at that time of the morning, but I finally realized I needed to set my alarm for 6:30. I got Jack up then and we went to pick TJ up. This is the third time I’ve gone to this airport to pick him up, and the first time that we didn’t go out to eat at Jerry Bob’s restaurant. TJ look whipped! We stopped at the cheapest gas station around to fill up the truck, and TJ asked me to get him a snack. We drove straight home and he went straight to bed. The boys and I did school and then I woke TJ up at 12:30. He took a shower and then we headed to Serial Grillers for an extra large Bone Crusher Pizza. For the first time it wasn’t 100% awesome, and I think that’s because the Philly cheese steak we also got was. It’s listed as Gormogon Ribeye Cheesesteak: double order of ribeye, grilled onions, cherry peppers, sweet peppers, bacon, 6 slices white American cheese, and topped with fries and rings. I’m a sucker for anything with with french fries on it, and there was something tangy/vinegary…maybe the cherry peppers? Or the cheese? Either way it was AWESOME!!

After lunch we went to Trader Joe’s and shopped around just for fun. I could tell TJ was feeling jet lagged again, but we had to get some groceries before we went home. We stopped at Fry’s and got stuff for burgers and just generally stocked up. By the time we left I think he was feeling better. When we were three quarters of the way home I realized I lost my bracelet. I bought a seed bead bracelet at the Salvation Army store in Tucson last Saturday. It had ugly birds on it but I took those off and then restrung it to the length I wanted. After a few days I decided I’d rather wear it as a bracelet because I love wearing my airplane necklace so I restrung it again to the right length. I was still trying to decide what to do about the clasp because it didn’t hold well and it was kind of prickly. I wasn’t sure if I was going to try to file off the rough parts or just change it out or just tie it on my wrist permanently. Now I don’t have to worry about it since it’s gone πŸ™

8 March Wednesday

I got out of the bed at 8 and we did our school as usual. For the last few days Jack has written his numbers in order without a fight, what a blessing! He can be so hard-headed and it’s frustrating when I know he can do the work, he just chooses not to. His numbers are being formed a little more clearly, they’re easier to read a little bit now. He’s still sloppy when he’s in a hurry, just like all of us.

We bought hamburger stuff yesterday so TJ chopped up the sirloin and made us awesome burgers for lunch and we watched Lost while eating it. TJ and I walked to the office to tell them our meter number. On the way there he told me that he thought our meter wasn’t running! It should be moving all the time since we’re using at least some electricity all the time, but the numbers weren’t moving at all. He took a picture of the meter number to show the lady, and I’m curious to see what they have to say about it.

When we got in the office it was Bob’s wife Barb who needed the number. She said Bob had already checked our meter and told us the number. Tj said that’s exactly what the number on his photo was. Then she said we hadn’t used any electricity at all in a week!!! That can’t be right! Tj told her he thought our meter must be broken, it wasn’t moving, etc. She smiled and just said that they read the meter and that was that, we had no charge for the week! We’d been there earlier that day to find out the procedure for paying for our last weeks worth of electricity, and she’d seemed harried and said it had been a tough day. When we walked there this time I brought some of Monmon’s dream pie we had in the freezer as a treat for her. I’m sure that didn’t hurt our situation at all πŸ™‚ It’s always nice to make friends with your neighbors!

We packed up all of the outside stuff tonight so tomorrow we can just pack up the inside and go. We moved the hammock to the horizontal skinny part under the bus because it was too heavy for the cabinet it had been in. We ate our leftover Bonecrusher Pizza and salad for supper, and then left the boys to get ready for bed while TJ and I went to the hot tub. It was okay temperature, but it’s a public hot tub so it wasn’t as hot as we would have it πŸ™‚

9 March Thursday

We got out of the bed at 8 and slowly started packing up. We said we wanted to leave by 9:30, but then we didn’t work really hard at it. We sent the boys off to play by the barn while we finished packing up and hooked the truck up to the bus. As we were getting that all taken care of Mr. Bob came by with a little note of thanks for Monmon’s dream pie, and I think he was tearing up when he said how much he enjoyed having the boys and us here at the park. That was so sweet. We’ve seen him around the park a bit and always stopped to talk but I didn’t think that we had made that much of an impression.

Bus mileage as we left 8480.

We pulled out at 10:20 a.m. As we were coming up to the exit we could see that the Sunstar in front of us had one of their storage compartment doors swinging open, so I ran up to them looking like a fool waving my arms around and finally got their attention…after they stoped for the stop sign. Hopefully we’ve got all of our stuff taken care of!

We headed down the road and everything seemed to be fine, and all of a sudden TJ was worried that he’d left our surge protector. I had walked around behind the bus as he pulled away and felt sure I would have seen it on the ground, it is pretty big, but when you have something worth $300 what probably happened isn’t good enough and it kept preying at him. I don’t think he’s over the jetlag yet and that didn’t help. I told him we’d come to a good pull off in a couple of miles but he took the first exit and I went back and opened the cabinet and there it was, thank the Lord! We got back out on the road, had a little sugar for breakfast, and I think we’re okay now πŸ™‚

Well it’s 11:22 and TJ just got flipped off by an ambulance driver because he wouldn’t slow down to let her in from the merge lane! I was taught you speed up if you’re the one merging, I guess she learned a different way πŸ™‚

We just passed some dude probably doing 55 on a motorcycle; he’s not wearing a helmet, and he’s a wooly booger. His hair is going back and his beard is flying forward. It just looks so funny, like a big ole Amish beard whipping straight out in front of him!

We arrived around 5pm.

10 March Friday

We left the house around 9:30 and headed out to Meteor Crater. This was a fun place to visit…but we had so much to do today that we didn’t want to take the guided tour. They wouldn’t let you walk around the rim of the crater if you didn’t, but to take the tour you had to commit to at least an hour…they locked the door behind the group and there was no going back early. So we looked all over the museum, and then walked outside as much as we could. It’s pretty impressive!

We planned to head to our next stop, Grand Falls, and eat lunch near there before seeing it. But Google took us a different way than it said last night. We ended up in an area with nothing to eat so we went to see the falls. Google said it would take more than 30 minutes to get to the falls…so we just blindly followed along. After a while we came to a dirt road and then we remembered we’d read that in the comments last night. After more and more driving on the dirt road we realized we were in for a long trek. All in all I think it was 45 minutes on an absolutely nothing but dirt road! After we’d driven at least 30 minutes Google told me to turn left, but that dirt looked surprisingly like mud…and it made me nervous. I stopped the truck and Tj and I switched places. It had been wet before, but now it was dry. And super bumpy. We finally made it to the falls, and it was so cool…for miles and miles and 45 minutes we’d had super flat ground all around us, and mountains far off in the distance, and then all of a sudden there was a waterfall carved into the earth! We could see people and cars and a pavilion or two across these huge falls, but we were on the ‘wrong’ side, and there was only one other car here! Awesome! We all climbed down a bit and just enjoyed the falls. The water was rushing so forcefully, you could hear the power! It was impossible to hear anything else. It was beautiful, but also super muddy…the water was as brown as the dirt around it. What a sight. When we were through climbing and looking, we had another 45 minute drive to get back to civilization!

We drove to our next stop and had lunch at a hole in the wall called Darrel’s Rootbeer Stand in Winslow Arizona. There was no seating inside so we ate at one of the 3 picnic tables outside. I got chili cheese fries…those are always so bad and so good at the same time.

After lunch we took our photos on the corner in Winslow Arizona, and then the heel of my boot fell off completely! Fortunately I had my tennies in the truck. We headed back toward the highway because we saw a Walmart there (we figured we’d buy shoe goo to repair my shoe), but couldn’t find it the second time around and there was no internet connection so we couldn’t search for it either. We filled up at a gas station and were right by the interstate so we just headed on down to our last stop of the day, Walnut Canyon. They were closing in 45 minutes and locking the gate so we couldn’t even walk around the park while they weren’t there. We walked a couple of the trails pretty quickly and saw some of the ruins. They were kind of cool but I’d much rather have seen them up close. Tomorrow we have some other ruins planned so hopefully that will pan out. We were 10 minutes away from Walmart so we stopped before heading home.

The scenery is beautiful here, lots of open flat land with very low trees, and then in the distance far and near you can see where the ground has been pushed up. When we were closer to the waterfall the shrubs were a lot closer to the ground and there were so many plateaus you could see a ways off. The ground there that had been pushed up was just red, red earth and on the top plates of rock that just looked shattered. It’s so beautiful in a way that’s completely different from anything I grew up with or lived in before.

We’re heading home now; it’s 6 o’clock, and we are all beat. We’re starting to bite each other’s heads off so we need to get to bed soon πŸ™‚ I’ll probably make us a salad when we get home, have the boys shower and then we’ll all just rest before we go to sleep.

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017

21 February Tuesday

After lunch we headed to Tombstone. We saw the good guys standing in the street waiting for the showdown. It took us a while to figure out where to get our tickets, but we finally did and got to the gunfight right before it started. It really wasn’t my thing, but Tj and Max enjoyed it. At the first gunshot Jack jumped and yelped, but once we knew what to expect he did fine. I more enjoyed seeing the full-sized mannequins placed in the position the gunfighters were reported to have been in the corral. There were other exhibitions we looked at, and then we did a little shopping. We also stopped by to get our paper, The Tombstone Epitaph, that came with our ticket purchase. Reading the first-hand reports of the day makes it hard to determine if the ‘good guys’ behaved very good in this instance.

I think this is where we ended up getting gelato, and bringing home those little blue cups. On the way out of town we stopped by Boothill to see some memorable graves.

22 February Wednesday

Since we planned on going to the museum tomorrow, we took the day off to celebrate my birthday!! I was lazy all day! I read a whole book! Tj made blueberry muffins from his new Alton Brown book and Monmon’s dream pie.

23 February Thursday

Today we headed to theΒ Pima Air & Space Museum and the boneyard. There was such a long line when we got there, even though Tj made sure we were there when the doors opened. We got the second shift of tour busses for the boneyard, so we spent our time touring the museum. I do enjoy looking at planes. There were a few training flight decks the boys got to climb in. Tj taught us more stuff about aviation. This was fun. Then we lined up for our boneyard tour and that was just so amazing! To see all those planes out in the desert, wrapped up, and many of them propped up on wooden saw horses. Wow. Our guide also pointed out a coyote out in the field, heh.

We had lunch at the museum, and Tj had a massive sandwich…a burger with buns made of grilled cheese sandwiches! I had a hot dog wrapped in bacon. It wasn’t quite as exciting as it should have been. But it tasted better than a plain old hot dog!

24 February Friday

Got out of bed at 8, did school. Then we went to tour the Titan Missile Museum. I was amazed and awed at the size of the springs there…the whole underground base was supported by springs, and they were massive! We learned about the guy who didn’t want to go all the way back to get a wrench (I think), so he used one he had that wasn’t a perfect fit, then it slipped from his hand, and ended up causing an explosion which killed him and wounded his mate. I think that was in Arkansas. The wrench he dropped caused the two types of fuel (?) to mix…and they’re never supposed to touch each other until the missile is ready to launch.

25 February Saturday

Today I went Goodwilling in Sierra Vista with Jack. I bought a glass bead necklace, a pizza stone, more yarn to make another basket, a pizza scraper, and another book for Jack. A great day!

27 February Monday

We went to Saguaro National Park East (I’m pretty sure it was east, not west). The desert is a beautiful place, and I’m glad we get to spend so much time here, but I rather enjoy the beauty of green green green trees and grass.

Afterwards we met up with Don and Dar for one last get-together. I’d told Tj so much about the awesome burger I had so we went back to Thursty’s and got one. I realized while waiting for our food (and this second time here we waited quite a bit!) that my eyes were dry probably because I needed to stop taking my flonase. When we first got to Tucson my nose was horrible…bleeding and so super dry. I stopped flonase a day or two, but then I sneezed all day! I’ve been taking it since then, but starting tomorrow I’m going to stop flonase and see how that works for me.

1 March Wednesday

We took TJ to the airport this morning. After school Jack and I took our usual walk around the park and then decided to go into the rec room to see what was up. Jack started playing with the cue ball on the pool table they have there. After we’d been there 5 or so minutes a lady came in from the laundromat in the other room and just watched him play. After a bit she went and got her husband and they asked me if it would be okay if they paid for Jack to play a game of pool. When I said that would be fine the wife told the husband he needed to teach Jack how to play πŸ™‚ The lady went back in to check on their laundry and the man started teaching Jack how to play, and then he told me that they had a grandson, and made a significant face so I knew that he had a grandson with Down Syndrome. It just makes me chuckle, I think older people are still a little shy about Down Syndrome. There’s not near as much stigma as there used to be, and younger people don’t hesitate to ask me or talk about Jack, but this guy didn’t really want to say the words, so I did. He was sweet though; they both were. He taught Jack how to handle the cue stick and just had a little fun with him. Come to find out it didn’t take any money to play, you just had to push the coin slide all the way in for all the balls to release. I see us doing this a lot in the future πŸ™‚ The guy was nice enough, but kept emphasizing how well each of his children were doing and how many well-known people they knew and were friendly with. Apparently he has a daughter who knows somebody high up in Disneyland so they get in there for free. His son knows somebody well place in the racing industry in Florida so they get to ride in the truck around the racetrack before the race starts. And they have a son who works in Dubai so you know how much money he makes. And also Fed Ex isn’t a great company for anybody except for pilots. I just smiled and nodded and tried to be more polite on the outside than I was on the inside.

2 March Thursday

Teaching/Mothering Jack is hard. Last night it was about peeing in his pants. Today at school it was this: he had a word bank and 12 sentences. These are all words he knows. One sentence was “A dime is this many pennies.” Ok, he’s not gonna know that, though he knows a dime from a penny. I told him to look in the first column: tent, ten, bell. Which word is a number? He guesses tent, and then bell. Really?? Is he playing me, or does he really not know? I ask him a few more questions, then finally ask him if ten is a number, and he says no. Fine. I tell him it is a number and tell him to write it in the blank. Another sentence is “Baby birds stay in it.” and he automatically says “Cage!”!!!! We’ve read all the words in the word bank out loud, but he says cage, not nest. Ok. Heh. So he knows birds stay in a cage (when’s the last time he saw a bird in a cage??), but can’t remember that ten is a number (we practice numbers at least every school day)? From day to day and sometimes moment to moment I can’t tell what’s playing me vs. what’s lack of knowledge. Sigh.

Well he just used his big toe to push his glasses back into place, so I guess that tells me something.

I went to pay our electrical bill today. I was gearing myself up for a big bill. I thought we were doing pretty good…I’ve probably turned on the a/c 4 times this month…but then I remembered all the loads of laundry I’ve washed and dried!! Oh well, it’s time to pay the piper. I went in and asked how much it was and she said 1546. I thought, over a thousand!!!!!! She said well, that’s kind of low, huh? And I said a thousand is low??!! She clarified $15.46!!! HA!! $15 for a whole month’s worth of electricity?? That’s awesome! I wonder if she got the number wrong? Their credit card machine wasn’t working so I’ll go back and pay later.

3 March Friday

Max just asked Jack if he was asleep, and Jack said yes!

Sometime during our time here we saw a little family of roadrunners run across the street in the park.

The other day Jack had an actual conversation with someone outside of our family! We were walking to the garbage and he saw a man washing his truck and Jack said how’s it going? The man says it’s going good, how are you? Jack said I’m good. An actual exchange between two people of more than two words each! That was exciting πŸ™‚

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017

7 February Tuesday

Max said, “Jack let me help him. I think that’s a sign of the Apocalypse!”

While we were doing school this morning someone knocked on our door. I opened it to find a grumpy looking older dude with the Cochise name tag on who told me not to let the kids ride on the road. Incredulously I asked “They can’t ride their bikes on the road??!!”, and he clarified don’t let them write on the road, with chalk. The day before Max had drawn lines on the road for Jack to delineate how far he could ride his bike, and he’d also written the word “friendship”. Max has decided to start a Friendship Club and that was one of the ways he advertised. I apologized to the dude and closed the door. I couldn’t believe it, that’s so ridiculous! The chalk is made to be used outside on sidewalks and roads, and the ground around our bus is pea gravel so Jack can’t chalk there. Whatever. I sent a text to TJ explaining how annoyed I was about the whole thing. He agreed and we grumbled together for a little bit. I told him I was going to go to the office and “ask politely” if there were any other rules we should know about. I asked TJ if I could use the word “arbitrary”, but he told me no, that it was too inflammatory. πŸ™‚

Not 10 minutes later I saw two dudes outside washing the chalk off the road! I was so perturbed, and finally decided to go ask them about any other rules we should know about. I apologized to Mr Jim, again trying to keep all sarcasm out of my voice, and asked if there was anything else we should know. He just kept saying don’t worry about it don’t worry about it, and then Mr Bob (the guy who originally knocked on my door) came up and said the same thing. Mr Bob said there were people living just down the street, I think in the subdivision that’s gated just a short ways from our bus. He says he knew somebody there who would be annoyed with the chalk on the road so he wanted to get it taken care of before it became an issue. I said I’m sorry that we were put in the Snowbird area, but it was the last spot that was available and I would try to make sure we didn’t do anything else against the rules, but both men again reassured me that everything was completely fine and we hadn’t done anything wrong. We stood around and talked for a little while longer and then I asked where a car wash was. We still had sand on the truck from White Sands that needed to come off, but the Pilot down the street has all of its car washes blocked off. They told me where another one was, and then Mr Bob said why don’t you just pull up to that other site where your neighbor left and wash your truck off there? Mr Jim said the people at the office will charge you for that. Mr Bob said well, we were just washing off the road, let’s just use the hose and wash it off right now, it’ll just come right off. So that’s what he did! I had gone out there feeling all annoyed and self righteous, and these two guys were so kind about the whole matter. I definitely need to make them some cookies πŸ™‚

9 February Thursday

Jack fell out of bed last night.
I made cookies and brought them to Jim and Bob.

10 February Friday

J fell out of bed again last night!

It’s so dry here my blue jean skirt is sticking to my legs with static! I didn’t know blue jean did that.

We were gonna go see the heritage flight, but Tj asked me to wait for my gift to be delivered. I have to say I wasn’t at all disappointed to have to stay home, hermit that I am. We waited all day and nothing! I even checked at the office and they said UPS had already been there, and they never come twice in a day, so I thought I was out of luck. Then, in the half hour or so while we were eating supper they delivered the package, but they didn’t even knock! Tj bought me an early Valentine’s Day Present: some chocolate covered strawberries! The ice pack was completely melted. If I hadn’t had to dump that night I wouldn’t have seen the box till the next morning. Stupid delivery guy. Anyway, I opened the box and ate 6 strawberries that night, and had the other 6 for breakfast. Yum!

11 February Saturday

I stayed in bed all morning, it was lovely! After lunch we headed to Dar and Don’s for some Goodwilling. When we got back we went to Thirsty’s Neighborhood Grill and I had an awesome burger, the Tucson Burger, with green chilies and Monterey Jack cheese…super juicy!

12 February Sunday

There was a creationist at church; very interesting, very like Ken Ham. After services the church ordered pizza for those of us going to the museum. The creationist went to the Natural Museum with us to show us some interesting points of creation.

14 February Tuesday

I knew there was a Valentine’s party for the homeschoolers today, but totally forgot about it. Max asked as we were getting ready for school if public schoolers got off for Valentine’s Day, and then I remembered! I thought it was at 9:30, and this was almost 9, so it was doable if he wanted to go…and he did. Then I remembered that I had a bulletin in the truck that would tell us the actual time so he ran out and got it…and it said 9am!! πŸ™ I said if we rushed we could still go, we’d just be late, and we decided to do it. They’d eaten already and brushed their teeth, so I brushed mine and we all threw on clothes and tore out of here! When we got to church there were no cars in the parking lot!! Wha??!! I looked closer at the bulletin and saw that I’d read about the Women’s Bible Study a 9 on Monday’s, and the HS thing was really 9:30, and now we were early πŸ™‚ We sat in the car a bit, and then went in on time. It was pretty much as awkward as HS things can be when you don’t really know anybody, and the oldest kid was Max, but he got to hide the hearts for the other kids to find, and we ended up having a good time. I talked to Sarah a lot that day…we clicked pretty well.

Later that day Jack tried to eat a rock. I don’t really have a lot to say about that one. Heh. I think he thought it was food that had fallen under the kitchen table, but it wasn’t.

I bought the kids cheese balls when they went to Don and Dar’s, and we came home with the whole tub. At Goodwill that day I also bought Max some skates that attach to his tennis; he loves them! But they don’t mix with cheese balls! We were at the entrance of the park and he asked for a snack. I approved the cheese balls. But I crazily assumed he’d eat them while reading right outside of the bus. Nope. He skated all the way down to the entrance with the big tub of neon orange cheese balls. Oh well, we’ll only be here a few more weeks. Heh. Then he tried to skate down the hill Jack was riding his bike down…with the open tub of cheese balls! Yeah, they both went down (Max and the balls). I told Max to just stomp the balls and scrub them around. If we’re gonna get called out for chalk on the road what will they say about neon cheese balls??!! When he got those taken care of he headed back to the house…and tripped a little way down the road, and now neon cheese balls right on the street for every one to see! What does he do? Stomps on them!!! Only you can’t really grind them into the asphalt! Where is common sense when you need it? I made him go back to the bus and get the dust pan and broom and then I swept up all the crumbs. I’d hate to get kicked out of the park and have to move this bus all by myself!!!

While all this was going on Jack was flying down the little hill at the entrance. He must’ve done it 7 times! He loved it, and was so funny to watch. His little feet would go round and round so fast!

15 February Wednesday

Max almost emptied the wrong bus tank tonight! We locked Jack inside the bus and Max and I went a couple of streets over so he could see the Milky Way. On our way back I told Max to empty our tank and he went to our neighbor’s bus! He didn’t touch their tanks, though, I caught him in time. The neighbors weren’t there, thankfully. When we got to our door I could see Jack’s outline at the door. Doh! Locking him in doesn’t do much good if he can unlock the door! We didn’t have to worry about that in Little Rock…we still had door knob covers on the outer doors there.

16 February Thursday

On the way to the Biosphere Jack and I were talking about whose birthday it was when he said, “When Rachel birthday is?” That’s a pretty big sentence for him!

Info on Biosphere 2: tour duration is 1 hour and 15 minutes, 150 stairs (up and down), just under one mile to walk round-trip. A wealthy guy donated 150 million dollars and eight people lived there for 2 years in a totally closed environment researching and growing plants. It was pretty interesting, but the most interesting part of the whole thing was the lung. It’s what they developed to be able to have an hermetically sealed environment: there was a huge rubber gasket that ‘breathed’ with the temperature changes. I should probably take more time to better explain it, but I’m not going to now.

I’d researched a place to eat between our two stops, but the Bosnian restaurant I picked out was closed between lunch and dinner. I quickly Yelped and Serial Grillers came up. We got there around 2:45. We ordered cheesy breadsticks, the psycho cheesesteak with avocado, ribeye, pepper jack, cilantro mayo, and the bone collector pizza with mozz, provolone, cheddar, boneless wings, scallions, ranch and buffalo chicken sauce. The pizza was amazing! I’m gonna have to try to make that!

After lunch we went on to Sabino Canyon at the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains. When we got there I was feeling so rushed…the Visitor Center closed at 4 or 5 and it was close to that time. I found out that the tram was leaving in just a few minutes, and there were toilets at the tram stops, so we jumped on a tram and got off at the second to last stop. I didn’t want to have to carry Jack out if he got too tired after our Biosphere walk of the morning. As we were waiting for the tram we saw a roadrunner!! I forgot to mention that we’d heard coyotes at Don’s house the first night. What an education we’re getting on this trip!

We had a good little ride up the canyon, and then we walked to a little dam that was overflowing, so it looked like a waterfall. We slowly made our way back down to the truck with the boys stopping often to play or investigate.

18 February Saturday

Awoke at 5:10am, got Jack into the truck (he’s a great early riser, Max we let sleep). Off we went to the airport to pick up Tj. He found a restaurant on Yelp that appealed to him, so we went to Jerry Bob’s for breakfast. I had 2 eggs over easy, potato hash and a side of chorizo. Tj had Huevos Garcia: hash browns with peppers and onions, cheese and picante sauce.

19 February Sunday

This was Tj’s first Sunday at this church. We went to Sunday School, but Jack’s teacher was out so Dana took him to his class. Between classes we saw Jack playing outside like all the other children were doing. After church started Max told Tj that Jack wasn’t in his class. I think with not having the teacher I’d talked to he got lost in the shuffle. Tj was miffed, and went out and got Jack and he sat in service with us. It’s a tough call. Yes, they should take care of him, but not having the usual routine he accidentally got left behind. Any other kid his age/size you can generally expect to do the right thing, but not Jack. Not yet anyway. We’ll have to figure out how we want to handle this now.

At supper, unasked for, Jack made a face and said it was his Wal Mart face. He’d done it once before and I didn’t really get it. He sticks his tongue out of each side of his mouth, back and forth. I guess he’s seen a WM commercial where the smiley face does that.

20 February Monday

Tj didn’t sleep well last night, so instead of us hitting the road early he went back to sleep, and the boys and I did school. I cooked meatloaf during school because I had the ingredients on hand, and I’ll be too tired in the evening after going to all these places. Max finished a full day’s worth of school, and so did Jack. I woke TJ up at 9:15, he did some work, and then I made us lunch.

After lunch we piled into the truck and headed to Chiricahua National Park. That was such a beautiful place! It was a lot of driving with interesting scenery, but when we got to Chiricahua that was an amazing place. We walked around a good bit, walked to the grottos and by the time we were ready to leave the sun was going down. On the way there we thought we would stop to see The Thing on the way back home, but by that time we were tired and ready just to go home. I looked up any restaurant I could find, but nothing was really calling to us so we headed straight home. We had sausages and cheeses and crackers for supper.

21 February Tuesday

We got up at 6:45 and left at 8:10 for Bisbee. Max did school on the road and finished 4 out of 5 units with A’s!! He would have finished the last unit before we got out but even with the jetpack the wifi was super spotty.

We went to the Copper Queen Mine and our tour guide had been a miner there 21 years. It was pretty funny riding that little train all through the mine. It was interesting learning how he placed the dynamite and just listening to him talk in general. After the tour there we rode through the town a bit…it was a cute place. We saw several VW vans there…don’t know why they’re so popular there but we saw at least 5.

We ate at Santiago’s for lunch. It was super expensive, but pretty good too. The people we talked to while touring Chiricahua suggested this place…they were a cute couple. She reminded me of Mrs. Norma. The boys had chicken mole. I had a fish taco, a chilorio taco and a few other things. And Tj had chile relleno, a green corn tamale, and an amazing soyrizo taco. I think the soy was so good because it had a good char on it. The fish taco was wonderful. If they all tasted like that I’d eat fish tacos everywhere!

Monday, February 6th, 2017

While we were in San Antonio we saw 2 tumbleweeds!

28 January Saturday
Jack climbed into bed with us pretty early in the night, and slept soundly all night. Sometime near 6am he started worming around. It seemed evident to me that he was feeling fine. I let him out of bed about 6:50, and not long after he went to the bathroom. Immediately afterward he said I gotta sit down. He seemed fine for a moment, but then started retching! He threw up a nickel sized amount of bile. Poor baby! I got him out to the couch and he lay there limply for a few minutes. Now he’s playing the iPad. Not back to his old self, but not laying limply either.

At 7:30 or so he ate a cracker and had several sips of water. He’s been fine since then, not jumping around but off and on playing on the iPad, laying there pitifully. More playing than laying thankfully. TJ took a shower at 8 a.m. and we pulled out at 10:20 without rushing around frantically. TJ and Max had cleaned all the outside stuff up last night, but we still had all the inside stuff to do today. Not bad! I ran into the office to check out while TJ drove the bus around the front to meet me. I made a quick stop in at the pancake breakfast because I figured that’s where our neighbors were. I wanted to say goodbye to Mrs. Deb and Mr. Tim. They were sweet to us our last week here. Mrs. Deb even made us some cookies for our trip!

Jack ate 2 bananas and 10 crackers at lunch and everything seems fine so far. Who knows what his deal is. He could’ve brought on the vomit this morning with nerves, he has done that before…but he wasn’t distressed by anything I could see. Maybe just weakness from not having eaten/stood in more than 24 hrs?

We got to Cowtown RV Park around 3ish, and started setting up. Before we were finished getting everything into place Jerry and Sharalee came by. They looked over our digs a little bit, and then we loaded up into two vehicles to go back to their house. After a little while of shooting the breeze Tj and Max and Jerry and Peyton headed off to the Main Event. On Max’s birthday he wanted to go to Chuck E Cheese or some sort of arcade place, but that is really not my thing. I don’t mind going if TJ comes along, but since he was out of town for work I told Max to wait, and then concocted this plan of Max getting to go with his friend. They played laser tag and arcade games, etc. and ate there. Meanwhile Sharalee, Lila, Jack and I went to On the Border for supper. I got fajitas and ordered Jack a side of rice. He ate a lot of chips and cheese dip before our meal came, and then didn’t eat too much rice. Everything had been rolling along just fine and then he heaved a big sigh and lay back a little bit, and coughed a little bit! My ears perked up and I stopped all enjoyment of my meal at that point. I was so worried he would threw up right there and that he was contagious and would make Lila sick. I didn’t allow him to eat or drink anything else for the rest of the meal, and he was fine. I’m thinking now he must have just been tired and still needed to rest from having been sick. After supper we went back to their house and talked till TJ and the rest came home. Jerry asked if Max wanted to spend the night and go to church with them the next morning and we said yes. He didn’t have any church clothes, or PJs or a toothbrush, but those things are not essential for a good time πŸ™‚

Sunday morning we got up and I buttered the outside of Jack’s fried egg sandwich we had wrapped up the day before and grilled it for him. I think he is completely back to normal now thank the Lord! We went to church and Jack went to the special-needs room today. I was sending him to the regular class and then they mentioned the special needs room, and I figured for one Sunday that would be fine. TJ went with Jerry in the tech booth and I went to service by myself. It cracked me up to see the drummer in his own little box on the right side of the stage platform.

We left after the first service and headed down to Glen Rose to Dinosaur State Park. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but this is where Kent Hovind had talked about there being human footprints and dinosaur footprints close together, and I wanted to check it out for myself. TJ checked their Facebook just a couple of days ago and they said the footprints were visible so I was super excited!

I went in and and bought the tickets and the guy said you had to look in the water to see the footprints, no biggie. He said the water was fairly clear. What he didn’t say was you had to walk through water to get to the water to look at the footprints! We were going straight from church so we were all in our Sunday clothes except for Max! We hiked up our pants legs and took off our shoes and socks and walked across these big rocks to see footprints. TJ said at first he would carry Jack, but I didn’t know how he could balance holding Jack. Max went by himself and didn’t seem to have too much trouble. I went next and TJ came holding Jack’s hand. After a bit I asked if he wanted to sandwhich Jack between the two of us and he said yes. That didn’t really work well either though, and I ended up walking with Jack across the steps. It really wasn’t too hard, but Jack was freaking out a little bit because the water was freezing! TJ was back to feeling pretty bad that day with his cold and both of his ears stuffed up. We all made it across with no one falling, thank goodness! We saw several dinosaur tracks, and they were pretty awesome. I got a couple of pictures of them and some of us with footprints in the picture. We made it back across a little easier the second time, I just had to keep telling Jack to stand still and put both feet on the same rock. I can’t believe he didn’t bring one or the other of us down.

We drove to a second part in the park called the ballroom where supposedly there were hundreds of dinosaur tracks going all directions. Once again we needed to walk in the water to get to where you could see the footprints. I was the only one who decided to do it this time. There were only pebbles to cross so it seemd like a much easier place to walk. Once I got to where the footprints were they were in a big flat piece of limestone, and that’s where the tricky part was, because that had alge growing on it. I took several pictures and everything was cool so I headed back to where the boys were. That’s when I ran into trouble. I guess I just was going too quick and then I started flailing around and all I could think of was my phone was in my back pocket and I sure wish I’d stuck it somewhere else! In the end I didn’t fall thank the Lord, but it was really close. I dried my feet with my socks again and put my shoes back on and we headed back to the truck. TJ looked up where the human and dinosaur footprints are, and it seems that the human footprints are not a sure thing. There are 14 prints that are sized and roughly shaped like a human foot, but I think there’s only one that you can see toes. I guess the jury is still out on whether they’re actual human footprints or not.

Jack kept saying finish dinosaur footprints, finish dinosaurs; he was ready to get the heck out of there. He hated that water! We headed back to Jerry’s and on the way stopped at the first Whataburger we saw; that was about two o’clock. Jack and I split a burger and chicken tenders dipped in white gravy, so so good! When we got back to Jerry’s house we woke them up from their nap, oops! We visited all afternoon and then that evening we left our boys with their kids and headed off to Babes for an awesome meal. You order the main dish, of which there are five options, and they just continue to bring sides to your table as long as you want. We started off with biscuits and lots of room temperature butter, and a salad dressed with a very simple but good dressing. We all ate two biscuits before the main dishes came. If I lived near one of these restaurants I would definitely be buying a whole new wardrobe to fit my new poundage! TJ ordered the chicken fried steak and I ordered the fried chicken and we split those, but we had so much to bring home it was ridiculous. The sides they bring to your table are green beans, creamed corn, mashed potatoes and white gravy. I was in heaven! We took a couple of photos with them on our way out the door and then went straight back to Jerry’s house and rounded up our kids to go home. We have an early and long day tomorrow, and Jerry has to wake up crazy early for his work at the post office so we didn’t stay too long that evening.

30 January Monday
Mileage 7568, 9:30am on the road to Van Horn Tx.

We were five miles away from the county line that changes into Mountain time zone, so we were really thrown off by what time it actually was for a while there. Our phones were reading differently then the computer, who knows when we really arrived? Okay, I just asked TJ, we got there sometime around 5/5:30. We were all doing pretty good as we set up. I knew I had a lot of leftovers that we needed to either eat or put in the freezer, so I portioned out the chicken lime soup I made the other day and got it all into the freezer. A couple of portions had to wait till we finished off the ice cream for Max’s birthday, but that really wasn’t a problem πŸ™‚ We ate all of our supper and I washed the dishes, and then around 9 p.m. we headed out to see if we could see the Milky Way. We looked up on darksitefinder.com and a couple of other sites that told us we wanted to be south of any cities, and that the core of the Milky Way was best seen in the summer and not able to be seen at all during the winter! We could, however, see the Milky Way plane and it was amazing! I picked a point 20 miles away from where we were camped that was in the darkest part of the darksitefinder.com. There was a small road branching off of the mainish road and I figured that way we wouldn’t have many cars passing us and disturbing our view. TJ was of course worried about being on someone’s private property, so this looked like the best option. When we were just about to turn on that road we saw that there was a picnic spot a mile further so we drove there instead. I put the picnic blanket out and we huddled together under the blanket and were just amazed and awed by all of the stars we had never been able to see before! We don’t have the right camera equipment to take a photo, but I just keep saying it was amazing because it was!

31 January Tuesday
10:10 we pulled out. Our goal was 10:30!! Go us!
Tj just said can you believe we’re going to have to get an ID for Jack? Sometimes it’s hard to believe he’s going to be 10 years old this year!

I saw a billboard for Sanborn’s which reminded me of that restaurant in Mexico where we had amazing chicken.

We just passed super close to Mexico driving through El Paso; I didn’t realize it was so close to the Mexican border. I could see the fence. This country sure is beautiful. So much of yesterday was flat open prairie and a huge sky above us. The last few hours of the day it was still a lot of flat around us but in front of us were hills and mountains. Today we’re driving in the hills and mountains, up and down up and down. A lot of the time was fairly sparse traffic, but it got really tight in El Paso. It is amazing to see what God created, the mountains on our left at one point looked like they had ribbons running through them. I’m so grateful we get to do this trip!

31 January Tuesday
We looked around for a good steak place, TJ was feeling steak, but the reviews weren’t too promising for the new-to-us places and we were pretty whipped so we went with an old standby, Texas Roadhouse. I’m trying to get better about not bringing home too many leftovers and also not ordering more food than we need. I’m working pretty well with this tiny fridge, but it still takes some effort. Jack and I split the prime rib, but he hardly ate anything! If I had known he wasn’t going to be that hungry I’d have gotten the filet mignon. The prime rib was all right, but I don’t think I love it like I used to. After supper we ran to Walmart to try to find some sleds for White Sands tomorrow, but we were in Las Cruces and they said only the Walmart in Alamogordo had them. It’s too far out of the way to go there first, so I guess we’ll just see how much they cost when we get to the park. We headed straight back home and everybody went right to sleep with no showers.

1 February Wednesday
Today was the day for White Sands! We got ready and headed out and had several hours there before lunch. The sleds were $16 each, but we got $5 back when we returned them since we didn’t want to store them in the bus. That hurt, but we got into the park for free with Jack’s pass. Go Jack! The lady also said we should get wax and wax up the sleds just like you do surfboards, so we did that. We looked all around at the gift shop and there were some nice things but I know there are going to be nice things in every single gift shop in every single city we stop, and nothing was really screaming to me so we passed on it all. We drove all the way to the end and it turned back before we saw the sign the lady told us to look for to sled. The hill looked super steep, but sledding on sand is not quite as fast as sledding on snow. It was a lot of fun and we did it several times, and just like sledding on snow the walk back up the hill was super tiring. TJ and Max raced face-first down the hill and Max wiped out and bumped his head, but I don’t think there’s any permanent brain damage. It was amazing how cold the sand was; I read that since it’s gypsum it reflects the heat instead of absorbs it. If you kept your hands in it too long your fingers got really cold. Oh yeah, TJ found a quarter in the sand last night!

When we were heading back to the truck we saw that some people had made sand angels, so the boys did that too and we took pictures. Lots of fun! We headed off to Alamogordo next and TJ looked up a restaurant on the way. Rockin’ BZ Burgers. When you walked in there was a table full of papers to fill out what you wanted on your burger. TJ and I split their award-winning green chile burger, and a half pound burger dressed the way we liked it. They were awesome! They were the juiciest burgers I’ve eaten in a good long time. The meat was still pink in the middle, there was grease dripping it out of it; they couldn’t have been better! The fries were pretty good too, and Tj enjoyed the onion rings I think. Max got buffalo wings and loved them. After that we headed over to TheΒ New Mexico Museum of Space History. We spent a long time outside looking at all the missiles and other rocket pieces. We looked for a geocache but it was nowhere to be found. I was annoying for a few hours because the dude who rode on The Daisy Track was John P. Stapp. Don’t you think he said ‘sthaapp!’ a lot??

We had planned on going to the Missile Museum on base, but by the time we were finished looking at all the missiles there in Alamogordo we were all wiped out. I don’t know if Jack said a word all the way home. We got on base and dropped the boys off at the playground not too far away from the bus. TJ and I relaxed; well, I relaxed while TJ took a shower and got laundry ready to start. We had sand in every pocket and sock and crevice in our clothes. The boys played outside till dark, and Tj shoved them straight into the shower and their clothes into the washer when they came in. He set them up with a movie in the back while I made pizza and a salad. We ate and watched Lost, and then everybody pretty much went straight to bed. This week of travel and a small amount of sightseeing is really exhausting. As much fun as it is I won’t be too sad when it’s time for us to settle down into our school routine.

2 February Thursday
10:20 We stopped for gas on our way out of the base. On our way to Tucson Arizona! 2:50 we arrived.

I said, “Thank you Jesus” for something, and Jack said, “Thank you Jesus, and God!”

Around 5:15 we headed to Tj’s friends’ house. While there Max tripped over Don and Dar’s dog, Zoe, and fell down; he lay there for a second or two, no big deal. He stood up and took a step or two and then fell again, and then didn’t get up! I called his name a few times, he was lying face-down with his face where the door meets the floor. I tried to roll him over, he didn’t help me at all, and then I realized he was out!!! When I got him into a sitting position I saw his face was a little pale and his eyes were wide open and his pupils were dilated sooo wide. His mouth was clamped shut…I wondered if I needed to open it to make sure he wasn’t gonna swallow his tongue. I didn’t know if he was passed out or was having a seizure. We kept talking to him and fiiiiiiinally he answered. He was probably only out 30 seconds or a minute, but you know how that time can seem like forever! Tj asked him what day it was, and I asked him what we’d done that day and he answered correctly. I think hitting his head on the tile floor caused him to pass out. When we asked him what happened he said after he got up the first time he felt woozy and then he didn’t remember anything till he was sitting up and we were all in his face! I was so in shock I didn’t really think to pray in the moment, but I’ve prayed a million times since thanking God for protecting Max. Tj said later that he’d answered correctly what day it was, but Tj didn’t know what day it was so he was even more worried then!

5 February Sunday
Max after church: 1. Stuck banana chips onto Jack’s face (I tried not to laugh and failed miserably! It was so funny!), 2. Said, “Oh, I’m a dog!” and stuck his socks on his ears, and there was a third one, but I can’t remember it. That crazy kid!

A lady from church offered to let us borrow some snow pants and sleds and suggested Mt. Graham…it’s less crowded than Mt. Lemmon.

Friday, February 3rd, 2017

15 January Sunday
Lunch at Hopdoddy Burger Bar. The boys split a burger and fries, and I had truffle fries for lunch. Yum!

17 January Tuesday
Tonight Jack and I played Connect Four. At nine and a half he still has no idea that he should want to win, he’s still just as excited whoever wins. He has no concept that winning means the game is over and you start over, nor that you have to get 4 in a straight line to win. At least he does know that you have to have four, but he thinks any four of his color means he’s a winner. Maybe we should start playing this game during school to help with these concepts.

18 January Wednesday
The song on K-Love said your presence Lord, Jack said, “Presents! Party Lord!”

19 January Thursday
Today Jack had an eye appointment. He got glasses in October of 2015, so he’s due a checkup now. Everyone at the office was nice, but I’m anxious because the doc said that his prescription was much greater than last time. He also said that Jack’s right eye was lazier than his left, and that if we were staying in town he’d consider patching that eye. Since we’re moving on he just gave him a greater prescription in that eye. What worries me is that we have no continuity of care, and Jack can’t tell us if these glasses don’t make his vision better. I’m trying to leave it in God’s hands, but I’m not so good at that.

After the eye doc we headed to the library to return all the stuff we borrowed, and then we went to Lulu’s for another cinnamon roll. It was good, but not as good as when our friends were there.

We went to At Home next to look for another rug…this one for right at our entry. I found a pretty light blue one with a similar pattern to what we have, but when I tried it out it was too big! I think I’ll give up on getting a rug there now…the next few days our outside rugs stayed soaked and the MHSRV rug we have here now is great to wipe our feet on. I don’t need another utilitarian rug when this one works great.

We ran by Wal-Mart for some groceries, and then went home and I sent the boys outside to play while I made gazpacho for the Bible study tonight. I was surprised at how well my new little chopper blended up that gazpacho!

During that time the boys and I walked down to Roland’s house to ask his grandfather about the phone Roland gave Max. His grandfather (Mr. Raul) said anything Roland gave was his to give! He’d given Roland a series of phones because Roland has cancer and can’t always play outside. When Roland breaks a phone Mr. Raul gets him a new one. He offered Max his choice between two phones…Max is over the moon!

Bible study was fun. I met a lot of nice people, and 1 weird one. And Jack “got lost” twice, and also started messing around in their furnace closet. Ugh. What a nosy boy!

20 January Friday
Today’s Max’s birthday!!! We got up at 9am and ate some cinnamon roll for breakfast. The chipmunk movie was on tv so I left Max watching that while Jack and I went to get his glasses. We were at the glasses place from 10:30-12-30…it took so long for me to find a frame I was comfortable with. We ordered them and hopefully they’ll be in tomorrow.

On the way home we checked at the front office and found out that Max’s Lego’s from us were in. Instead of leaving right away for lunch he wanted to build his motorcycle.

We ended up leaving for lunch around 2pm. We went to Buffalo Wild Wings and he ate 7 hot wings! I had 5 and some fried cheese curds.

After that we went to Wal-Mart for his cake and ice cream. He didn’t want me to make his cake this year…which meant I wasn’t as tempted to eat cake every day. I guess that’s a good thing.

He worked on his truck Lego’s, and I bought us tickets to Sing online. We left almost on time for the movie, it was gonna be tight but it was ok. The drive was fine, but the last 2 minutes were crazy! I really don’t think a 4-way is the best way to handle 4 lanes of traffic in every direction, especially when there are 2 4-ways…separated by construction. We made it on time, though, and had plenty of time to get popcorn with butter for supper there.

We got home at 9ish for cake and ice cream!! What a day!

21 January Saturday
9:30ish we decided go to the trampoline place with Laura and Joe. Afterwards was Freebird for lunch, yum!

We went back to Laura’s for the boys to play all day. She gave me tiles, homemade soap and cacti. What a friend!

We left her house around 8pm!! (Poor Laura)

22 January Sunday
After church we went to Dollar Tree for yarn to crochet a basket. We returned the blue rug from the other day, then went home for lunch and a nap.

When we woke up the boys went for a swim and I started my new basket.

When it was time for supper I realized Jack had been playing with the fridge settings and my gazpacho was frozen!

Tonight I walked the campground for 30 minutes talking to Tj on the phone. Nice.

24 January Tuesday
Talked to Papa tonight about the Cabildo. Jean St. Amand (later St. Amant) was Papa’s Great Great Great Grandfather, Camille’s dad (Camille was Papa’s Great Grandfather). His portrait hung in the Cabildo (in 1776, can this be right?). He died in 1801. Jean’s son was in the Army and fought in the battle of N.O.

25 January Wednesday
Nothing much to report today except that when were leaving a bee came in the house and tried to fly up my nose! He didn’t succeed, nor sting me thankfully!

26 January Thursday
We went with Laura and Michael to the open play gym this morning. I met Lauren there, she’s the preacher’s wife Jack made get out of bed last Thursday when she was suffering from food poisoning, because he was rustling around in her furnace closet!

Lauren and Laura were concerned about a baby whose mother wasn’t nearby…I found her and asked if I could hold her baby…he was so little and sweet!

On the way to the gym Tj called to say he was coming home a day early! We’d still have plenty of time to do all that I’d planned and then go get him.

After the gym we headed back to Laura’s for lunch. She made cowboy casserole and I brought salad stuff. I’ve enjoyed being here near her and getting to visit so many times. What an awesome trip! Max was bummed that the last time he went to their house their big boys weren’t there, but that’s the downside of being a homeschooler: sometimes your friends are in school when you aren’t.

When Laura went to pick up her boys my boys and I headed to At Home to buy a decal for the fridge. Then we had some returns to make at Wal-Mart, but on the way we saw another Sketchers outlet. We had plenty of time, and I’d planned on going there today anyway, so we stopped in. There were only 4 pair of shoes in Max’s size, and since they were having a second pair half off sale I bought 2 pair of shoes for Max.

Next was Wal-Mart. Max brought in his new Lego jet, and somewhere in the store he lost a piece. We had just enough time after that to go to a nearby McDonald’s playplace for a few minutes before Tj’s flight landed. We picked him up and headed to supper, and that’s where the fun began!

We went to Lulu’s, because I’ve been dreaming of their chicken fried steak covered in cheese since Tj gave me a few bites of his. We had a long wait for our food, but no biggie. Jack ate a few bites and then threw up! We all figured it was his usual stuff-too-much-in-your-mouth routine, but then he threw up 2 more times!! I took him to the bathroom to wash him off, and when I got back to the table Tj was boxing up his supper and had ordered the cinnamon roll we were bringing to our friends. I figured I had enough time to eat some more supper, but of course the only thing that came quickly to our table was the bill and the roll. Ugh.

Jack was fine the rest of the night, and it was blessedly uneventful.

27 January Friday
After snuggling in our bed for a good while we all got up. I started putting the decal on the fridge and Tj made Jack’s fried egg sandwich. Jack came to snuggle with me so I sat on the couch, and then he threw up again, and then again…the second time just water!

I went out to dump the mid tank and Jack was eating some plain bread when I got back inside…and he threw up once more! That poor bug! I honestly don’t know if he’s got a virus or not…he’s never done this before. He’s been fine for the last hour and is watching a Leap Frog video on our bed. Good thing we didn’t plan on doing anything today!

He laid around all day looking pitiful. He didn’t want anything, not even his favorite movies. He napped with me for more than an hour. After we awoke I thought he had a fever because he was sweating, but his temp read 97.6.

After we ate supper we gave Jack 1 cracker and about half a cup of water, and he kept it down. He fell asleep pretty quickly.

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

The boys and I had a good New Year’s Eve ‘party’ despite Tj not being here. The boys had been fighty the day or two before the day, so I drug them all around town NYE shopping here and there. We went to a few Goodwills, and then a game store for Max, and the used bookstore again where I got another couple of missionary books for him as well. My plan is to have him read a book a month since I have a small stockpile of good books for him. I need to make a list of those for future reference. I’ll always regret not keeping a list of books I’ve read over my life…I should start doing that, but really, it’s hard enough keeping up with this blog and homeschooling, etc etc etc.

Back to NYE, we didn’t buy too much but we had a great time looking. We went out to eat at Buffalo Wild Wings…Max is in love with hot wings these days (though not really hot, he just likes fried chicken) and I’m in love with their fried cheese curds. He wants to go there for his birthday. When we were heading home it wasn’t even dark yet and already the fireworks were starting. We stopped at Wal-Mart on the way and got a few things plus a bottle of sparkling juice. At Dollar Tree Max begged me to buy two martini glasses so we’d have something special to drink our bubbly in and I relented.

It was surprisingly easy to stay up until midnight for all 3 of us. Robin and Dave said it’s cause we were all sugared up, and I’m sure they’re right, we had a hot chocolate chip cookie with vanilla ice cream and chocolate and caramel syrup on it for supper. The fireworks were constant from 9pm till after midnight. When midnight rolled around I poured our drinks and we walked down the street to watch the fireworks. I sat in the hammock a while watching them too…the boys were awed.

I just let Jack sleep with me…I figured it was the best way of insuring he went to sleep relatively quickly so that he’d be ready to get up for church in the morning. He is still so sweet to cuddle with in the bed. If he wasn’t such a smotherer I’d have him sleep with me all the time when Tj wasn’t here, but if I don’t plan ahead and put a body pillow between us he pushes me to the very edge of the bed! Bed hog!!

2 Jan Monday
If you’re gonna be a mom, why not be an excellent mom?! Max said this after I let them drink out of the fancy glasses again.

I said I want to learn how to knit, boys. And Max said you want to knit a boy? You could knit me a brother!

I told Jack to come get in bed and he said, “Actually, sleep this bed please Mama”!!!!

3 Jan Tuesday
When Jack woke up today he said, “Scared ironing board, scared tree. Don’t be scared ironing board. Finished kitchen, finished living room.” After we talked a bit he said, “Hey kitchen, hey cake stand.” He just wakes up talking and talking. I’m assuming this all comes from dreams he’s having. He’s also talking about missing the old house, so I wonder if it’s the Christmas tree that used to be over our front door?

Max and I played Magic: The Gathering and we died laughing over fart cat…which turned out to be a misunderstanding.

Jack’s voice has been a little raspy so I looked at his throat, and then we all looked at each others throats. Then Max said my uvula looks like a nipple!!

We’ve been having some funny days around here: we sleep with the a/c on, turn on the heater until noon, then wear shorts and go swimming in the afternoon.

Jack has been asking to play blue ball storage please…he wants the blue ball with sand in it that’s in storage in GA.

We went to the Witte Museum tonight with the neighbors, it was a lot of fun! I told them we would be happy to go anytime they wanted, but I was surprised when they suggested 4 to 9 p.m. I didn’t remember that that’s when the museum was free. So we did our schoolwork, and Jack and I went to the playground for a while, and then at 3:30 we left. I entered the directions in my phone, but followed them there. They have a new dually and in the parking garage David rolled down his window and asked me how am I looking now? I started laughing and told him he looked great, but I really had no idea what he wanted to know. Then he pointed overhead and he was under the bar telling you how low the ceiling was going to be. Oh! Of course, he wanted to know if he would fit!! That makes sense!

We had a good time at the museum; we saw an exhibit on explorers, and Texas historical artifacts, and the architecture around there was beautiful. There were three trees going up through part of the museum near a brick floor patio area. It was really beautiful there. We stayed there till it was dark and then headed over to Lulu’s, home of the three pound cinnamon roll! When we got there though it was closed! We put our heads together and came up with a second place about half a mile away but we realized it was not in the nicest area when we got there so we drove on.

Sometime during this time a car came up beside me as I was behind David. I thought David must just be hogging a two-lane road, so I moved over a little to the right so the car could be on my left. Come to find out it was a one-lane, and when the light turned green that car just eased its way between me and David! I couldn’t believe he had the nerve to do that. It made me laugh, but Max was already grumbly so he was pretty upset about the whole thing.

It took awhile for them to find a place to park their big dually so we drove around San Antonio for a little bit. The first restaurant we went to had a 1 hour wait, so we crossed the Riverwalk on foot and went Cafe Ole. The meal was pretty good but the fellowship was best of all. Max was fairly sullen through the whole meal, I’ve told him he needs to apologize to the family. I know he was tired and hungry, but that’s no excuse for his behavior.

On the way home I wasn’t planning on following them, but it worked out that way anyway since we live right next door to each other. We were both in the left hand lane to take 87 south when he saw that it wasn’t the correct lane and went straight; I didn’t see it in time and went ahead and turned left and headed north! It probably only added on a couple of extra minutes, and thanks to Google I made it back home just fine. We had a good laugh about it later.

4 Jan Wednesday
Laura and boys came over for lunch. I made mac and cheese in the instant pot and it was a success! The boys played inside for a bit, and then outside. When they started getting too rowdy we headed to the Japanese Tea Garden. It was very pretty, but I’m sure it would be beautiful in the spring.

When we left there they went home and I looked up a McDonald’s playground for Jack. Google said the one near our campground had a pg, but turns out it didn’t. Fortunately Chic-fil-a just a few blocks away did. I was really craving a hot fudge sundae, though!

I went without and drove to CFA. As I was pulling into the parking space Jack was really fussing that he wanted to go to a pg!!! I just about blew a gasket. Here I am bringing him to what he wants and he’s throwing a fit! We had a ‘little talk’ and then we went in. He’s getting harder to take lately. I’m really looking forward to having Tj home and another parent around. Jack can be a really sweet kid, but he’s so frustrating…he wants things, but can’t/won’t tell me what they are…and when he does tell me as often as not it’s with griping, whining, growling, stomping, etc. I understand it must be frustrating being somewhat trapped inside that mind…there’s a lot in there but not all of it makes its way out…but it’s super wearing dealing with the attitude. I’m praying for more patience and understanding lately, and for better ways to facilitate communication between the two of us.

Anyway, we went inside and the boys went to play while I took a break and read on my phone. After a good while we drove back home. I got a hot fudge sundae and sent the boys inside the bus while I ate in the truck. The sad thing is that it didn’t taste as good as I remembered. Guess they’re not my thing anymore. After a while Max came out to tell me that Jack had wet his pants.

5 Jan Thursday
We got Tj from the airport today! Woot!! He came in around lunch so we went to Fatt Boy Burger and Dogs and had burgers, fries and some awesome fried pickles with lots of garlic in the batter. Then we went home and took a nap.

6 Jan Friday
We went to Lulu’s for lunch with neighbors. When I put my name in for a table I asked why since the website said they’re open 24/7 were they closed the other night. The girl told me there were just too many people so they had to shut down for the night. Huh? Whatever.

They said the wait would be about 45 minutes so we told Robin and David we were going to the library, a 2-minute drive away. Laura lent me her library card and we wanted to check out the place. We hadn’t been in there 10 minutes and were texted that our table was ready! I texted Robin and she said they’d just witnessed a fight and were calling the police!

When we got back to Lulu’s they’d given our table away but said we’d get the next one. Robin said they’d gone to the library and seen two dudes whaling on another dude, so they called the cops. After we texted them and they drove around to come back they saw the two dudes walking away! Craziness!

We didn’t wait long at all for the next table, but the wait for the food was forever! They only ordered a cinnamon roll, and we ordered that plus a chicken fried steak for Tj. The cfs was covered in cheese sauce!!! It was heavenly!!!! And so was the cinnamon roll which came out first! We’d just about finished what we were going to eat of the roll when the cfs finally came out. Oh, it was so good. Now I’m hungry!

We had such a good time visiting there…it’s too bad they’re leaving tomorrow!

After we finished eating we parted ways and we went back to the library. I was so amazed and shocked at how many homeless people were in the library! Sleeping on the chairs, camped out on the floor, etc. I thought that at least the kids’ section would be just for kids but there were 10 or so guys milling around there, too. We looked on every floor and picked lots of stuff to check out.

After that we went to Lowes to look for a carpet. I ordered one off of Amazon weeks ago and it never came…Tj finally cancelled it for me. We talked to a guy who worked there about carpets, and then got to talking about places to eat here. As always, there are many more places to eat than there are meals to fill. Sigh.

7 Jan Saturday
I finished crocheting my first dishcloth. Now I need to buy a needle to weave the ends in.

Our neighbors left! I’m so sad. They were such awesome people. I’m grateful we met and hit it off, and had time to do such fun things together.

Later I was taking it easy when Max burst into the bus saying Jack lost his drone!! Max says he put the drone and the controller down in front of our bus and after a while Jack picked it up and flew it. We looked and looked and couldn’t find it. Obviously Jack shouldn’t have flown it, but Max shouldn’t have just left it out there. As we were heading back home giving up on ever finding it I saw some blinking lights under the playground slide! God led me to find it! Woot!

Tonight we finally put together the chocolate bread house and bus. I’m glad to have that monkey off my back!

8 Jan Sunday
Jack got lost at church today! Last Sunday (the first time we went here) Max went into his class. This Sunday Tj said Max should go to class with his own age. Jack had the same teacher as the week prior, and there had been no trouble, so I didn’t think it was a big deal. I took him to the bathroom before I dropped him off, gave the teacher my phone number, and off we went. When church was over we went into the room to get Jack and the teacher started looking for him. After a few seconds I started walking around the room (another movie theater, so stadium seating, not the brightest lighting) calling him. After half a minute Tj and I just headed out to look for him. I went to the arcade (on the left side as you enter the main theater) and Tj headed outside. Yep, he was playing a game, albeit with no money. I took his hand and headed outside to find Tj. When I finally found him and made my way back to the teacher of course she felt awful. I don’t think she should really be held totally responsible, and of course he was found quickly so it’s no big deal…but Jack just lulls you. He was probably fine when Max was in there, and without him he sat in his seat I bet the whole of the class time. So by the time it’s ending the teacher thinks she’s got his number, and that’s when he makes his move. He’s not a runner, he’s a meanderer. He just walks out and heads off to something more fun than waiting around for his parents to come get him.

We had been invited to Laura’s house for pizza for lunch. Tj made salted caramel pie and chocolate caramel pie to take, and we stopped by WM for whipped cream for the top. The preacher called while we were there to try to get in touch with us and apologize after the Jack incident. I told Laura and Joe that they could get lots of points if they acted like they didn’t really know us and just invited us home for lunch after seeing how upset we were with losing Jack.

After delicious homemade pizza and a great visit we left and went shopping for a rug at world market, but they didn’t have any soft enough or the right size. We did buy our supper there, though. Meats and cheeses and crackers. Yum.

9 Jan Monday
We decided to skip school and instead decorated the chocolate bread house.

Then we went to Mission San JosΓ©. We saw flying buttresses, carvings, quatrefoil patterns and the famed β€œRose Window.” We also saw a stairway that had “all 25 risers hand-hewn from a single log and assembled without the use of nails or pegs.”

Then we went to Mission Conception, and then the Alamo. I’m so excited that we’re on this trip! It’s so exciting to read the plaques and see the places so full of history. To think people actually died there defending what they held so dearly. We’re very blessed to be able to do this trip, to live this life.

We walked the Riverwalk and ate at Casa Rio…the oldest restaurant on the Riverwalk…where ducks pecked Tj’s leg! Earlier this day a squirrel brushed his foot crossing between Max and us! Tj’s becoming a regular Cinderella!

10 Jan Tuesday
Today we headed off to the Enchanted Rock in Fredericksburg for some climbing. When we were practically there we saw flashing lights and a sign that said the park was closed!! I looked it up on the website and saw this: The park will be closed from 3 p.m. Jan. 8 until 2 p.m. Jan. 13, 2017. Only drawn permitted hunters will be allowed in during these dates. Contact the park for more information. How do you close a rock??!! Jack had been asking for a playground (as he does at least 20 times every day) and we’d been promising him that he’d get to go climb a big rock…ah, well.

Our next (now first) stop was the Nimitz museum. I really enjoy seeing mementos of times past. After a good while there we saw the Japanese Garden of Peace, a gift from the people of Japan in honor of Nimitz.

Next we went on to the National Museum of the Pacific War. Tj hustled us through that one…we could’ve stayed for days and not seen half of it! It was so completely full of information and interesting things. I hated not being able to read everything, but as it was we ate lunch at 3pm!

We went to The Auslander for lunch since our first choice was closed on Tuesdays!!! I had my heart set on a smoked burger, but settled for jagerschnitzel with gravy, cheesy sausage with great mustard, hot potato salad which was sweet and vinegary, yum! mashed potatoes and a roll with tons of butter. We ordered chicken schnitzel for the boys.

After eating we went shopping along Main street, went to the Main Street Park and saw the Christmas pyramid. The boys played on the playground there and I went to a little museum in an old church there. We stopped at a candy shop but the fudge did not look fresh at all so we passed. On the way out of town we stopped to clean out my windshield washer sprayers, but they’re still clogged. Tj ordered Marcos pizza on the way home. We took a couple of wrong turns thanks to Google Maps…San Antonio is the worst place for Google Maps…there are so many times it changes its mind right after I commit to a turn, or the road signs don’t match. I haven’t had any real trouble this whole bus trip getting from place to place, and I sing GM’s praises, but San Antonio needs to get its act together!

11 Jan Wednesday
Our MO these days is wake up when we wake up…I have an alarm at 8 but I usually shut it off before it alarms and take my pill without waking Tj up, then when he wakes up we lounge around a bit reading our phones. After that we plan where we’re going for the day. This worked out ok for here, our first real sights place on our trip, but I think for our future stops we’ll choose our top 3 must-see places in that location before we even get there. Then we can plan the days either there or before we get there based on the weather and Tj’s work schedule.

As we were going to the truck I asked Tj to check out my wiper washer and come to find out there’s a big hole in the tube! We tried taping it but that didn’t work at all. We had some rubber cement so Tj slapped some of that on there and that did the trick! That night he put another coat on there. Hopefully that will hold for a long time.

Then we drove to the AFB to buy tickets. We’d already talked about which tickets to buy, but of course there were a few more places to work out once we got there and saw what was available.

By this time it was getting close to lunch. Even though the boys had had breakfast not too long ago, we knew we couldn’t do all that we wanted before we all needed another meal, so we looked for a restaurant that wouldn’t take too long. Tj saw there was an In-and-Out Burger joint on our way so that’s where we went. He hadn’t eaten there in ages and I’d never been there. It was good…and of course cheese smothered fries are right up my alley!

After filling up we headed on to Natural Bridge Caverns. I always enjoy places like that, and I always forget what it entails with Jack. Fortunately he kept his hyperventilating to a minimum. Of course Tj had him the majority of the time so it might have happened more than I remember. He’s not too bad, but his fear of heights showed up a little too.

After the caverns we went to the maze which was fun, but I wouldn’t do it again. We were each given cards and had to find 4 stations to punch the correct letter onto our cards, and then find the exit to get our card punched with the time.

After that was my (and Max’s) favorite: gift shopping! I bought a pair of earrings. I hemmed and hawed a lot, but I’ve been wearing them for several days now and really like them.

On the way home we went to SA Pops…which was closed!!!! The sign said they’re only open on the weekends during the winter. Ugh! As I was grumbling out loud about this happening AGAIN! some guy started walking towards the shop and said he would open it and get us some ice cream if we wanted!! Neither Tj nor I wanted to make him work on a day he’d planned off so we thanked him but left without any.

We went home, sent the boys to play outside, Tj did some work and I made salisbury steak casserole. While we watched another episode of Lost I cooked the end of the chocolate bread dough that has been in our refrigerator since before Christmas!!! I was so glad to wake up the next morning w/o any of us suffering from food poisoning since that dough was so old! πŸ™‚

12 Jan Thursday
Today we went to the mirror maze which was so much fun! It was really hard to tell where the walls were. I blame any running into mirrors on distraction by Jack who was my companion for the maze. I think we’ll probably do more of those in the future if we come across them in our travels. We all loved it, but I constantly had to remind Jack to keep his hands in front of him so he wouldn’t run into the mirrors (again and again)! You’d think once or twice face-planting into a mirror would be enough, but no. It was super strange to really not know if there was a wall right in front of your face or not. Jack’s least favorite part was the times we had to walk over a mirrored floor…that really freaked him out. Tj ended up carrying him through most of them when my usual trick of telling him to sit down and scoot didn’t work.

We walked down the street to use the restroom before our next activity and I almost bought a sugar-skull t-shirt…I really wanted it but they didn’t have my size. We went back and did the laser room activity which I was excited about, but turned out to be a 10′ long rectangular room with lasers shooting across it that you had to avoid. I expected it to be bigger, or more complicated or something. It was fun, but this definitely wasn’t worth the money.

From there we walked to the Riverwalk and took the boat tour. I’d asked Laura if we should do it or if it was cheesy and she said she’d done it 4 times. I guess every tourist thing is cheesy if you think about it…and not cheesy if you enjoy it. We had a good time riding around looking at the scenery, this really is a beautiful place!

Next was the Tower of Americas which we had difficulty walking to because of construction. We ran across a playground which we told the boys we weren’t going to play on, but then the way through it was blocked so we had a play break for 15 minutes or so there. We went on to the tower and Tj and I decided to just walk Jack onto the glass fronted elevator without really warming him up to the idea. This seems to work out better than trying to reason with him. He went on just fine, and when we got to the glass part he started pulling back from the window as he sometimes does, but he didn’t fuss or cry. When we got to the top you could go outside or stay inside and still look over the city. It was so windy outside, and Jack fussed about being up so high and outside that I took him inside. After a while I got a phone call from an RV place and spent a good amount of time talking to them. I got Tj’s attention and continued to work out our reservations for this place, but after she said it was an extra $2.50/day/kid Tj cancelled the reservation. Hopefully we’ll be able to find a better priced place.

After we looked as long as we wanted we went downstairs to the 4D movie included in our ticket price. There were 3 20 minute movies, but the one playing a few minutes after we got down was Rio. I had Jack on my lap because I was so cold in the theater. It turned out to be a good thing for us (but bad for my shins); at every point in the movie when Rio tries to escape or something else exciting happens our seats shook pretty violently and Jack totally lost it! It was kinda funny, but I felt so bad for him…it would be really scary to not understand what was going on! We got the seat-moving seats when we saw Rogue 1 but they barely moved…Jack had his own seat and never flinched during that whole movie. This was very different. I just held him super tight and told him over and over that everything was ok and I was there…but in the end I was glad it was just 20 minutes.

We finally headed back to the truck and off to lunch around 3pm at Mi Tierra Cafe and Panaderia. Tj had been wanting to go to this place, he’d heard they had Christmas decorations year round so we checked it out. He and I shared the fajitas…the steak tasted great! Afterwards we went to their panaderia and bought the largest praline I’d ever seen, and it was awesome! We also got a empanada de limon that was ok, and the boys got a sugar cookie with sprinkles. We saw a street artist outside doing flash-painting…pretty cool. I shopped for a minute to find a sugar-skull t-shirt but these were out of my price range.

In unrelated news I couldn’t remember which brother-in-law it was, but turns out it’s Dan that thinks it’s weird that we use the word visit…going to visit my friends, neighbors, etc. It’s funny that something so common for me is so strange to someone else from the same country.

Friday
Max and Tj went to ride go-carts. I’m always happy when they get time together. Jack and I were eating lunch when they came home, and Tj released me for the rest of the day!!!! Mom’s Day Out!!!
As I was leaving our parking spot I called Mom and she had such good things to say. Papa has been in constant pain for 5 solid months, and was building up to that since 2013. Half a week after seeing pain doc he felt so much better he went to church! He even worked outside in the yard with mom for 3 hours!! He’d become a bit of a recluse recently, hardly even getting out of bed at Thanksgiving. I’m so thankful he’s feeling better, and am now praying that this relief is permanent.

I laughed with mom as I shared my route I’d planned on Google Maps: Home Goods, World Market, Goodwill, Goodwill, Lowes, Goodwill, Goodwill, etc. I ended up finding a rug at Home Goods so I took out the Lowes, and I stopped at a Dollar Tree on my way but I still haven’t found that dough scraper I saw in a store in TN…I should’ve bought it there! I had 4 chicken strips with gravy from Wataburger, and stopped at Baskin Robbins for a shake and some ice cream for Tj on the way home. What a great night! I didn’t buy as much as the first time I went Goodwilling here, but I did hit the jackpot with Corelle…7 plates, 2 big bowls and 4 little bowls for $7!! I feel so rich with a bowl for each of us when we eat soup now. Heh.

14 January Saturday
Today was a lazy day. We did a bunch of nothing, then I cut everyone’s hair.

15 January Sunday
I brought Tj to the airport for a couple of weeks of work. It looks like he might sit reserve this whole time in Memphis, which turns out might not be bad because he has a cold!

Max and Samuel had been playing with a boy in the campground named Roland. I’ve seen him a time or two, and heard a bit about him from Robin. A day or two ago Roland gave Max a Lego Ironman robot…Max was so excited! Tj and I are probably gonna make him give it back. Today Roland gave Max a beat-up old iPhone! Max is over the moon! Being a parent isn’t what I thought it would be.

16 January Monday
Nice, typical, boring school day. I’m glad for this after our whirlwind week last week.

I dozed on the bed after school (and fighting with Jack) was done for the day, and when I woke up I had this text from Papa: Russel is missing-Jo doesn’t know where he is. Police are looking for him now. Pray hard

!!!! I called the boys in and we prayed, and then I called Mom. Apparently Russell just took his bike and left. He crossed 92 which is a 4-lane with a turn-lane road. A little ole lady called the cops to tell them Russell was there. When Ted and his brother drove up Russell was just sitting on the porch with the lady and they were just talking like nothing had happened. He was missing about an hour and a half…I know Jo and Ted were out of their minds with worry. I remember a couple of times Jack wandering away on our street in AR…it wasn’t a long street…only 5 houses on a side with a cul-de-sac at the end…but looking for him was panic-inducing. It never ceased to amaze me how many places there suddenly were to hide. And Russell, like Jack, still doesn’t answer when you call his name. Jack is better about it now, and I’m better about telling him to answer when I’m calling. But….Russell was lost 1.5 hours. I just can’t imagine.

That night at supper we started figuring out how much spending money Max had. He’s been wanting to buy a Lego Creator Jet for a month or so now. I haven’t been letting him spend his money…I told him he had to wait till his birthday to see if he got any birthday money…he kept wanting to buy little things here and there and fritter away his money. It’s still hard for him to save. When we did our cyphers and gazintas it came to $54!! He saw the jet at HEB Christmas Eve night for $70. I looked it up on Amazon right then and saw the same jet for $52!!!! You should’ve seen him scream and dance! We ordered it right then! The estimated delivery is from his birthday to a few days later…we’ll see!

Monday, January 2nd, 2017

Some last additions to our Memphis restaurant list:
Texas Roadhouse: they had Kids’ Night that night! A woman came over and offered to take our kids to another table to do a craft…that night (right before Thanksgiving) it was just coloring. We let Max go but didn’t think we should send Jack. Our meal came out but we figured Max could eat it at home so we let him continue coloring, we could see the lady’s head 2 booths over. After Jack finished eating we let him go with Max and Tj and I practically had a date. Heh.
Area 55: this is where we ate the first night we got there.
Marco’s Pizza: it was just as good as home.

Since our washer still isn’t working Tj has been taking our clothes to his crash pad to wash them. It’s nice to get it all done without having to go to the laundromat. We’ve ordered the part and I had it sent to Laura’s since Tj won’t get a chance to work on it till we’re there anyway.

14 December Wednesday
Ikea opened today! And Tj had his follow-up ear appointment. The doc says the hole in his ear is healed and his hearing is normal, but it may take another 4-6 weeks for his hearing to return to what it was. It still bugs him a good bit, but what can you do?

After his appointment we took Jack to the Ikea grand opening. I wanted to look at curtains and rugs, and everything else! The childcare is fantastic, but because it was opening day we were only allowed 1 30-minute slot. We impulse bought several things…what fun! We’re gonna have to cut back one of these days! I found a rug I liked the look of, and it was extremely plush! Sadly it was too thick to fit under the couch. As much as I tried I couldn’t make it work, so I had to return it the next day.

17 Dec We packed up and drove to Shreveport, La.

18 December Sunday
What a wonderful day! Like always we were early getting ready to go to church until the last 20 minutes when we were late. We headed out and then I remembered the Mack’s gift so I made a quick u-turn and drove a minute-and-a-half back to the bus and got it. We got to church with 5 minutes to spare and were on time for the boys and our Sunday school classes. I walked in the church door and before I could even ask somebody where Max’s Sunday school class was Mrs Shirley said well there’s Ellen! It was so good to see her! I was so thrilled that she recognized me without even knowing I was coming. We laughed and talked for a little bit and then she pointed us the right way to Max’s class.

Max and Jack were in the same Sunday school class and after we dropped them off we went to ours. When the preacher asked me to introduce us I said that I used to attend this church 16 years ago, and a man in the class said he remembered when I recited Luke 2! When Sunday school was over we went back to church and looked for Mrs Shirley. While she was visiting I saw Mrs Molly and Mr Jim Gulledge. She said she taught me at SMITE, but I didn’t think we did SMITE together. Either way it was ages ago. We sat with Mrs Shirley during the service, and it was good to catch up with her afterward.

After church I called Mr. Mack to let him know we would be about 20 minutes. We stopped at Walmart on the way to get a loaf of french bread. Seeing the Mack’s was just like old times, they haven’t changed a bit. Mrs Mack asked if the boys wanted soup, and said a couple of times that they didn’t have to eat anything they didn’t want to eat, so I gave in and made them peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Mr Mack said who ever heard of a sandwich without chips, so the boys had chips and grapes to go alongside. Mrs Mack had made a big batch of minestrone soup and cornbread to go along. I’ve never been a cornbread person, but her corn bread was good. I think I’ll have to try to make it. It was so awesome just to sit and visit with them, neither their demeanor nor mannerisms have changed a bit! After lunch we had homemade peach cobbler with Blue Bell ice cream. While I was helping dish that up Mrs Mack had to open her chair/ironing board for Jack to ooh and ahh over. We heard lots of stories about the Mack’s kids and grandkids and exchange students and dinners etc. Afterward, while coffee was brewing, we walked back to see my little apartment. Then Mrs Mack gave me a tour of her house; she has two sewing rooms! I had forgotten that Mr Mack smoked a pipe; the smell wasn’t heavy, but it was familiar. We said our goodbyes and got into the truck and then I remembered I should have taken a picture. We all piled back out and took a couple of good photos in their kitchen.

We drove around Shreveport then looking at the old places; it’s so much fun to see that again, and to show it to the kids. We drove by Mrs Norma’s house, but it seemed obvious from the BBQ pit out on the front walk that she didn’t live there anymore. I’m so sad that we weren’t able to get in touch with her. We went back to the bus and bundled the boys up for them to go play outside till the last bits of daylight were gone. TJ started getting us prepared for tomorrow’s business of registering the truck and getting licenses in Texas. We ordered pizza and put Elf on to watch. One of the pizza options had anchovies on it and I convinced Tj to give it a try…I always wondered if I’d like it. I don’t! The fish taste was too string and just didn’t sync with the pizza to me. I eat them sometimes on crackers…guess I’ll have to stick to them that way. We didn’t tell Max that they were on there and then asked him how he liked the pizza. He said it was really good, and was surprised when we told him. I bet if he hadn’t been watching a movie while eating it he would have noticed.

Another day closer to Christmas!

19 December Monday
On the road at 10 a.m. heading to Livingston. When I got in the truck to go through its routine to set it up for towing I saw that one of the tires was low so that delayed us a bit. TJ check all the tires and filled them all up. He had done the ones on the bus in Memphis before we left, but not the ones on the truck.

Now we’re halfway to Texas, Max is doing his school work and Jack is watching some cartoons. My drawer was falling out of my closet so it was fun trying to get all that taken care of while hurtling down the road.

19-22 Dec
This was such a quick/busy stop with so much to do. We went there to change our residency to Texas, but Tj had a work trip in the middle, so we were a little stressed that it wouldn’t all get done. We arrived in Livingston after lunch so we quickly checked into Escapees and headed off to get the truck inspected. Tj had read that you didn’t need to drive the bus to the inspection place so we left it there. We tried to level it before we left, but we were in a hurry and the site was far from level, so we just plugged in the electricity (to keep the fridge cold) and left. We drove to the inspection place and were told we’d have to bring the bus. Ugh. I called the other place that did RV inspections and it was the same there. The inspection of the truck was so quick so we quickly drove back to the bus and then I took the boys and the paperwork to start the registration process.

Up until the day before we’d been sweating it a little…we had inspections, registration and new licenses to accomplish Monday afternoon after driving the bus there, and then Thursday afternoon when Tj got back from his work trip. How would we get it all done? Then in Shreveport I realized I could do most of it on my own…it just hadn’t occurred to either of us to have me do it…Tj always handled all of this type of paperwork. So I started giving the woman the papers she needed to get our vehicles registered and of course I needed the current registration. I knew it would be a pain so I was mentally prepared for it to take a while. I called Tj to see what he wanted me to do and he needed me to come. Turning into the inspection place the cabinets came open and a corelle plate and two small bowls fell from the upper cabinet and shattered all over the place!!! And in a camper a plate shattering in the kitchen also reaches the bedroom and livingroom. I drove the 5 blocks there, got the paperwork straightened out, swept up some of the glass, moved the kids to the bus and headed back to the registration place.

Oh, yeah, on the way out of the registration place I dropped our marriage license on the sidewalk without knowing it!!! I was so thankful Max saw it and picked it up.

This time at the registration place she said I’d have to have all the paperwork signed by Tj since his name was on the titles. I went over everything with her to make sure the next time I went there I’d be prepared, and then went home.

That night Tj filled out the forms and we signed them, and then we went to Wataburger on our way to drop him off at the airport.

The next day I tackled the registration and won! Finally! So I headed over to the drivers license place, and lost. The last time we changed our residency to Texas life was simple. This time not so much. I had to have a birth certificate and my ss card to prove I was who I say I am. I don’t understand why a recently expired passport isn’t good enough. It’s a photo ID, and proves that I’m a citizen. But whatever. I called Mom and asked her to overnight our stuff after she dug it out of Jo’s basement. I’m so thankful that she’s so willing to help us out!

The next day I went back and got my drivers license and double checked that Tj had all the paperwork he needed to do the same thing. I was assured he did. He didn’t have his ss card but his DD-214 has his number there and is an approved proof.

He flew into town after lunch and we got to the DL place around 2. His clerk wasn’t nearly as helpful as mine had been. Tj got a lecture on how his DD-214 was a copy (it wasn’t) and how the dude could prove it was, and why a copy wasn’t good enough, blah blah blah. When Tj texted me that I told him he had a nicer print in the other folder and that seemed to appease the guy. Then the guy said Tj had to show him where it said he was honorably discharged…like Texas won’t accept dishonorably discharged citizens???!!! Whatever. This guy was obviously on a power trip. Finally Tj got his license and all our work there was done. We got some lunch and went back to the bus.

One of the things that really surprised us was that for both the plates and drivers licenses they just printed us an 8 1/2 by 11″ license! Even in little ole Cabot we got an actual license that day. It’s odd having a big piece of paper as my drivers license. Our real stuff will be mailed to us in a week or two.

20 Dec
When I kept laying in bed after Jack asked for a fried egg sandwich…he finally said who wants make fried egg sandwich???

23 Dec Drove to San Antonio

24 Dec
Saturday We met our neighbors here in the park. I don’t think we’re any closer to the next rig than we ever have been, but it feels closer. Fortunately they seem nice!

We went to see Rogue 1 today…it was great! If A New Hope was a 10 I’d say Rogue 1 was an 8 or 9. I was worried they’d overdo the robot, but it all worked out.

Laura gave me the address of their church, and it’s at the same movie theater! The church is just starting up so it doesn’t have a building yet. We saw Joe as we were leaving the movie. We thought we’d have about an hour between the movie and church, but when we got home we realized we only had 15 minutes till we had to leave!

The service was good, and Jack behaved himself which is saying a lot considering he’d just sat through a 2-hour movie, 3 30-minute car rides and now he had to be quiet and still for church. What a trooper! After the service we went to a hamburger place for supper. Tj and I split the parmesan truffle fries…if we go back there I’m skipping the burger and the nutella/pretzel shake and just getting those fries again! They were amazing!

On the way home we stopped at HEB…it was Christmas Eve night…it was packed!

After we got home we hurriedly put the boys to bed so I could wrap all the presents. I wondered if we’d be able to find them all…stashed as they were around the bus. I think we did.

25 Dec Sunday
We told Max he could wake us up at 7am. He says he awoke at 2am and again at 5. We ended up having to wake Jack up! Silly kid!

I made a big pallet on the floor and we opened our gifts. The boys had a great time. Max was overwhelmed with the laptop. Tj was hesitant about getting it for him for Christmas since it’s really a school thing, but Max’s face as he unwrapped it put all his fears to rest. Max also got a (tiny, like 3″ square) drone, a massive Hershey kiss, a clip-on light for his kindle, a Space Invaders hand-held game, the Magic game (from Grandmom), and $25 from Gran/Pawpaw. Jack got a remote control car (from Grandmom), $25 from G/P (don’t know what I’ll do with that), a train from the train museum, a disco ball, a wubble bubble ball, BB-8 hat, and a BB-8 figure.

We were lazy all day, and then I started our dessert around 3. I wanted to make a red velvet trifle with ganache but my ganache never set! I still don’t know what I did wrong. I wonder if it’s because I used chocolate chips and not bar chocolate…basically it wasn’t quality chocolate though it was name brand. Either way it was in the freezer for a bit before we left, and then in Laura’s fridge while we ate supper and it was just as runny then as when I first made it.

We got to their house around 5. She fixed us beans, cheese dip and fajitas with a slaw to go on the side or on the fajita. We ate outside with a little fire in their pit. Afterward we drank my ganache with the cool whip on top while we played catchphrase. Fun.

26 Dec Monday
As much as I loved hanging out with Laura, having this day to just stay at home was nice. I told Tj not to even fix the washer…he needed a break before he goes on his trip tomorrow, but he insisted, and I’m so thankful!!!!

We lazed around in the morning, and then put some ribs on to cook in the instant pot. Tj then started on the washer. I asked him if he was sure he wanted to start that project right before lunch and he said yes…and he finished it before lunch was ready! It was a Christmas miracle!!! My washer works!!!! I’m listening to the 6th load of wash drying right now. I’m so blessed. I’m so thankful to have a working washer/dryer. I know it’s a silly thing, and going to the laundromat isn’t horrible…I really enjoy it when Tj keeps the boys and I can go and read a book…but it’s so nice not to have to leave the bus to do laundry.

27 Dec Tuesday
It was drizzly today. We got up early to take Tj to the airport. As I drove down our ‘driveway’ I was using the wiper fluid a lot and noticed that they didn’t spray as high as they usually do. As I got to the end and was turning I realized that it was super hard to turn the wheel, my power steering was going out, and then saw that my battery light came on! That worried me. Tj didn’t seem worried at all, but I’m sure that he was just preoccupied with his first day of this new part of his job.

Jack and I dropped him off and I called Mom to see if I could talk to Papa and get some advice on the truck. He was still sleeping, so she and I decided I should go have the battery checked, and she said to ask them to check the alternator as well. I punched Walmart into the GPS and off we went. But I forgot to make sure it wasn’t a neighborhood market! So the first place I went didn’t have an auto center. I quickly found the next nearest place and went there. I was careful this whole time not to stop the truck in case I had trouble starting it again.

Yep, bad battery. I was glad Tj got my txt about the situation before he took off. Even though I was sure he’d tell me just to go ahead and get a new battery it always feels better to talk big-ish decisions over with him. We got a new battery and we were off! I’d been hoping to go Goodwilling and fortunately was only a little delayed.

Jack and I stopped at 3 Goodwills and boy did I make a haul! I bought 10 shirts, 4 skirts, 1 pair of shorts, 1 corelle plate, 1 skillet, and Sequence for Kids that we’ve already played 4 times with Jack. I generally hate shopping for any clothes except skirts, but I was on a roll today!

I want to see the kid…J just said this about the neighbor Max went out to see.

That evening Jack and I walked our trash out to the dumpsters, and then I let him play on the playground a little bit. Our neighbors came by (Dave and Robin) and I talked and talked to them. I think we’re striking up quite the friendship. I hope so, but after tonight….not so sure. After we’d been talking a good while I turned around to check on Jack and saw him pulling his britches up!!!!!!!!!! Oh no!!!! I’m still not sure what bodily functions he actually accomplished, but we made a bee-line home. I went back later with a flashlight and found no evidence. Life is rarely dull with Jack!

28 Dec Wednesday
Laura texted me to see if I wanted to go to a park and of course I said yes. When I glanced at the website it looked like a hiking park. I fixed sandwiches and snacks and we piled into the truck. It was a play park and the boys had a blast. I did too. It’s so much fun catching up with her! It’s so hard to believe we built up such a deep and lasting friendship in under two years.

After staying there a couple of hours she invited me to her house, and since Jack (and Max) have said a few times that they can’t wait to go back to her house I said yes. We only stayed an hour since she had people coming over later.

When we came home we went straight to the bathroom and then changed to go to the pool. I mentioned we were going to our neighbors and they came a little later. The water is heated, but was still a little cold. That made no difference to the boys, they swam till it was dark! I had so much fun chatting with Robin while they swam. Jack got out of the pool twice to go to the bathroom; I’m grateful last night’s playground incident was a one-time-thing (keeping my fingers crossed!!).

29 Dec Thursday
Robin and Dave came over to see the washer/dryer…they’re considering one. They stayed for a good while and we talked about lots of different things. Max and Sam played on M’s computer up in his ‘bedquarters’. I’m so thankful for such good neighbors. I’d been hoping for some friendships on this bus trip, but it just hadn’t happened.

1 Jan Sunday
J slept with me last night. I tried to wake him up before my shower and this is what he said:
Color them yellow.
Color the blue ball.
Push the ironing board.

Went to church with Laura at the movie theater. I told the girl as I was leaving the boys that Jack had DS but it was OK if they were broken up into different small groups…and Max said, “He’ll stay with me.” He really takes care of Jack…despite how much he torments him!