Friday, August 15, 2014

A Marian Banner

...for the Feast of the Assumption.
After scanning through my stash I found a thrifted cloth, some blue ribbon for the Marian symbol and a pretty blue fabric (with small flowers on it).  Once I figured out how I wanted it to look, the rest was easy.  Just some pinning and adjusting.  When I was finished, we clipped the branch from our mulberry tree and Fritter stripped the leaves off.  All that was left to do after that was hang it.  Sure there are imperfections (quite a few actually!) but I used what I had and will let love do the rest.  Hmmm...sounds a bit like how our Blessed Mother cares for us!  We come to her with all our cares and imperfections and prayers, she perfects them, and offers them to her Son in great love.

Now we have a banner we can hang on our front door for all the Marian feasts!  Happy Feast of the Assumption!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

2014 Family Vacation

I'm back.  We have been out of pocket for many reasons, some of which include a monsoon storm that hit our area the day before Independence Day (sounds like a movie title) and tore off a section of our roof.  We had been praying about whether to get the roof replaced (and therefore also the air conditioning unit which sits on top of the roof) or do another project to our side yard.  God answered that prayer in a very obvious way.  Roof and AC it is!  Thankfully the insurance company helped with the cost.  But the paperwork!  Here it is August 11th (now 12th) and the paperwork is still not complete (not my fault!).
Anyway, add all that in with planning and taking a family road trip to the great northwest and you can see why no blogging has happened.  Oh!  And we completed two weeks of school during that time too!  Very productive.
Picture from the Fourth of July, which probably deserves its own post, but isn't going to happen.  This will have to suffice.
So a road trip.  We've done a big one like this before, but that was back when we only had two children.  So this was kind of a new experience.  Our trip took us along the Oregon Trail and then on up to Seattle to visit family.  Since we had the opportunity, we planned to go a little longer route so we could follow the Oregon Trail to its end.  Along with the trip, I planned a unit study for school, which I will post about another time.
For now, I'll tell the story of our trip through the photos I managed to take.
Our first stop was just a few hours north of us.  We stopped to camp at Sunset Crater in central Arizona.  The landscape was surreal.  Tiny black lava rocks covered the ground with trees and a few flowers poking out. 
The center piece Fritter and Ladybug made for our picnic table.
We camped in a tent the first night, and got as much sleep as you would expect.  The next morning was chilly (a nice contrast from the 115 degrees we left down south) and a little misty.  I snapped this picture of the volcano as we were leaving:
The next day we drove to Salt Lake City where we picked up the camper trailer we were renting for the rest of our trip.  At our campsite north of the city my husband managed the logistics of hauling a camper across the country while I worked on making the inside a little like home.
Our prairie schooner.
We would be grateful for our quilt many times over on this trip.  The nights up north can be cold.
The inside of the camper was just roomy enough for a playpen.  A fact which I and Froggy were thankful for.
What would be a trip along the Oregon Trail (though we hadn't reached it yet) without a broken wheel axel (a flat tire)?  Just like the emigrants before us, we did what we had too (but had not planned on) and replaced all four tires on our van.
While waiting for daddy to get back from the tire store, the littles and I played with snails at our campsite.
Finally the van was ready and we were able to head north and meet up with the Oregon Trail in Idaho.  Our lunch stop was just outside of Burley, Idaho, where our handy guide book told us we could find trail ruts.  Sure enough we found them, though they were more off the beaten path than we would have liked:
Trail ruts along with a landscape that has changed very little.
My pioneer husband and youngest child.
A ragtag bunch of pioneers.
Little emigrants.
Because our journey had started off already off schedule, we didn't make it quite as far as we would have liked that first day.  But with some extra planning (one reason I was grateful for my smart phone on this trip) we were able to make Mass and fulfill our Sunday obligation at the Cathedral in Baker City, Oregon.  After Mass, I was filling up our water bottles for the next leg of our journey, when the maintenance person for the church told me that each and every stone of the church was carted by the faithful each Sunday until the church was completed.
So many times along our trip would we stand in awe of the blood and sweat and tears required to travel and settle this area of the country.
Because we were short on time, we cut north into Washington before we had originally planned to, with the promise that we would return the other way when we went home.  And so it late in the afternoon on Sunday we saw this sign:
Almost there!
Once in Seattle we camped outside my brother-in-law's house and the kids got some much needed down time:
Watering the garden with Aunt Ruth.
Picking tomatoes.
The next day we went to the Ballard Locks and Fish Ladder.
And afterwards we went to Golden Gardens Beach.  I looked for shells and the others braved the frigid water.
Uncle Bill and Ladybug.

The following day we all went to the Space Needle and my dear husband arranged for me to take Fritter and Ladybug up to the top.  What a view!  While we were up there we were able to watch the Blue Angels practice before their big show for Seafair weekend.  We had front row seats to several flyovers!  Of course Fritter and his cousin Ryan thought it was about the best thing ever.
Looking up from below.
We were blessed with one of those rare clear days in Seattle, so we were able to see Mt. Rainier clearly.
Can you see the Blue Angles right in front of the mountain?  Majestic.
Down below was quite a bit of activity.  Darth Vader was offering pictures (as long as you gave a donation in that little bottle.  I snapped a picture anyway.  Oops!
Later that afternoon, Dan took all four children back to the house for naps and playtime, while I went to Pike Place Market.  I was grateful to not have children in tow.  This place is busy!  We found all the trinkets we could ever want.
My sister-in-law even ordered a salmon for one of our dinners.  We got to see this guy get thrown before he was made into food.
A nice view from one of the overlooks.
I just found the bathroom signs hilarious.
This is the "original" Starbucks.
Another day was spent at the zoo.  Really, what a great zoo!  And because we have a membership to our zoo here in town, we were able to get a 50% discount on our entry fee there.  Remember that next time you travel if you have a membership to any science centers or zoos.
Feeding the giraffe's.
Uncle Bill and Froggy.
Uncle Mark and Froggy.
There's a lion in there.  Can you spot him?
Daddy and Froggy.  This is a baby that really got passed around.
Read all about it!
Which way do we go?
Looking up.  I couldn't get enough of all the trees!
Los Amigos
And of course there was playtime and fun at home in between all the museum visits (I don't have all the pictures of the museums to post here, but the older two children and my husband rode the Bremerton Ferry, went on a tour of the Boeing facility, went to the Museum of Flight, and went to Seafair.) 
Fritter the pilot.
Legos with the cousins.
Bike Riding.
Putting the children to bed in a new environment each night was a...interesting experience.  One evening my sister in law brought this out to me in our camper as the littles were fighting sleep once again: 
A foretaste of heaven.
Of course whenever you are around family you have to take some fun pictures.  These were on the little scooter my brother in law inherited from Dan's dad.

It takes lots of hands to put children in an acceptable pose.

This is the best we could get.

And this is an outtake.  Froggy was NOT happy about his situation.
And everyone got to ride the scooter as well, including myself (I didn't get any pictures of that!  I was too busy holding on tight!)

After Mass the following Sunday we headed home.  This time we drove south through Olympia and Portland and met back up with the Oregon Trail, this time tracing it backwards.  Our first stop was to cross the Columbia River again and stay at Maryhill state park which is right after The Dalles (the "end" of the Oregon Trail) on the Washington side of the river.  If you are ever in this neck of the woods I highly recommend this as a camping spot.  The kids were thrilled to have green grass to run in and a great spot to play in the Columbia River. 

We took a little detour to visit the Columbia River gorge and it's famous waterfalls.  Unfortunately there was not a place to park our prairie schooner, so we had to take the pictures on to go.  But still.  Pretty.

Meeting a new friend at the campground.
The Columbia.  Just like the emigrants.
You can't see him, but we had a little hitch-hiker follow us all the way from Seattle.  This picture is as we were leaving our campground.  Inside the mirror is a little house spider.  He built a web across the passenger side door on our van.  When we started to drive, his web fell apart and the little guy was in danger of being pulled off the van and lost in oblivion.  My dear husband, being the softy he is (and goaded on by all the "poor little thing!"'s inside the van), pulled over until he made his way safely back inside the mirror.  My husband is the best.
And there you have it!  Our vacation post that took me two days to finish!  Next up our Oregon Trail unit study.  (I'll come back and update this post with links.)