Highlights from our Trip North

We were very excited to get spend Labor Day week with our friends and family in Illinois. Terry is originally from Mattoon, Illinois, but we rarely get to go up there. I snapped almost 200 photos during our trip, and there is no way I could post them all, but I wanted to share some of my favorites with you. There are several photos, so I hope you have a few minutes. :]

Snack time. :]

It was a blessing to see my friend, Ava, and her baby, Gracie again! She and her husband met us for lunch at the McDonald’s in West Memphis, AR. Terry and I enjoyed the fellowship with them so much. She brought us some homemade cookies and mini pecan pies for the trip! They were YUMMO! Thank you, Ava!

Matthew finally got to meet his Granddad!
Matthew is my first baby to take a pacifier! That was such a blessing for this trip. He was very content in his car seat sucking on his pacifier. πŸ™‚

Lauren and Mitchell got to camp out in Great Gramma’s backyard! They were so excited that Grandma and Granddad bought them this tent. They have it set up here at our house now.
Leslie liked playing in the tent during the daytime, when it wasn’t too hot.

Great Grandma let us grill out. My Terry did the cooking. Don’t let the flame fool you, the food wasn’t burnt. πŸ™‚
On Wednesday night, we attended church at Bible Baptist Church in Mattoon, IL, where my Father-in-law got saved and grew in the Lord. Here I am with an online friend, Jennifer. It was great to visit with her face to face for a change! πŸ™‚

We ate lunch at this cute Dairy Queen in Arcola, IL. It was the nicest one I’ve ever been in!
Lauren, being cute, which she does very easily. πŸ™‚

The DQ had this awesome playground!
Matthew and his Grandma. πŸ™‚

After lunch at DQ, we went to Rockome Gardens. It has beautiful gardens with shapes formed by cementing small rocks into beautiful shapes. In the photo above, you can see the beautiful weather we had for the day there. The sky was blue, the temps were low and the humidity was zero!

My kids on the “bus”. That’s a stranger is in the first window. We hated to ask her to leave. πŸ™‚
This area of Illinois has may Amish people. Here, the kids pose in an Amish wagon.
They loved this treehouse at Rockome Gardens.Β 
Terry and Kathy got the blacksmith at Rockome Gardens to make them this sign on a piece of wood.
Terry and his Grandma, who graciously allowed us to take over her home for a few days and cooked delicious food for us! Thank you, Gramma!
Here I am with my little home school at the old school at Rockome Gardens. πŸ™‚ I love my students!
The kids loved sitting in this giant rocking chair.Β 

Terry and I liked the rocker, too! We had visited here years ago right after we were married. The trip brought back sweet memories. πŸ™‚
Look at this huge rabbit!!

The girls found this “Three Bears” replica house. Laci was in awe, thinking she had found the REAL house of the three bears!

Leslie at the three bears’ house.Β 

I snapped this picture of the kids as animals by the petting zoo at Rockome Gardens. Can you see what Leslie, the cow, is doing? See below for a better look.

Β She’s holding her nose!! She’s always been my prissy girl – I guess she couldn’t stand the smell of the nearby animals! lol!!
Laci didn’t mind the smell. She liked feeding the sheep, and Leslie did it, too, surprisingly! lol

I was so happy that a staff member at Rockome Gardens offered to take a picture of our whole family together in the heart! I will treasure this one always.

There were thousands of beautiful flowers at Rockome, but I couldn’t possibly show all of my pics here. These flowers were my favorite! Anyone know what they are? I love them!
On the way back to Arkansas, my husband wanted to swing off the highway and stop in the town where his dad pastored for about six years. Terry was saved at Calvary Baptist Church in Flora, Illinois, when he was fifteen years old. The place is special to him and he wanted to walk down memory lane for a while.Β 
Welcome to Flora!

Here’s a picture of where the church used to be.(Click to enlarge) This is where it was when Terry got saved. Later, they built a building, much nicer than what you see here. The arrow indicates where the front door of the church was. It’s a private home now, we think. πŸ™‚ It was hard to tell.Β 

Eventually, the church outgrew the building they built, and purchased this church in town.

Here’s Terry with the church sign. This church will always be a special place, no matter what its address is.
Crossing the mighty Mississippi.
Whenever we pass through Sikeston, Missouri, we try to eat at Lambert’s so we can get some of their famous “throwed rolls.” Their rolls are good, but their grammar isn’t! πŸ˜‰ lol!
Tuckered out kids. They had a wonderful time with their grandparents!

The last three hours of the drive home seemed to last forever! We were thankful to find this playground at a school in Marion, Arkansas, so the kids could get out some energy. It was very hard to find restaurants with play places on I-55 or I-57. : (

Mitchell got a bit tangled up!Β 
I am so thankful the Lord provided us the money and a reliable vehicle so we could make this trip. The kids did very well on the journey, despite being crowded in the van and without a DVD player to watch, like we’ve had on previous long trips. I am so grateful that the Lord protected us and that we had such wonderful fellowship with our friends and family. To God be the glory.
Thanks for looking through my “scrapbook” with me. :]
With love,

Valerie

Blogging from Afar

Hello, friends and neighbors! Thanks for dropping in. I just wanted to post quickly and say that I’ve been away from the computer enjoying a visit with my husband’s family in Illinois. I plan to blog about our trip soon and post some photos upon our return. I hope you will stop by again soon, I have so much to write about! πŸ™‚

See you in a few days. =)

Valerie

Our Vacation at Home

We were unable to take a “real” vacation this summer. Matthew was born July 14, so we have been busy (and exhausted) as we’ve cared for a newborn. Also, traveling with a few-weeks-old baby isn’t exactly fun, in my opinion. Instead, we were blessed with a visit from my Mom and my sister’s family. My sister, Melanie, lives in North Carolina with her hubby and three adorable boys. Needless to say, we don’t get to see them very often. We relish each opportunity to get together. They were only able to stay a week, but we crammed many happy memories into that week! Here are a few pictures from our time together. I’m calling this the “vacation at home”. πŸ™‚

Β Our church hosted “Back to School” Sunday on August 8, 2010. That also happened to be Mitchell’s 8th birthday! He and the rest of the kids enjoyed the bounce house and some hot dogs and watermelon!Β 

Here’s a close-up of the cute dragon on the bounce house!Β 

Β My nephew, Stephen, turned 7 the day after Mitchell turned 8! We were able to have a joint party for them! They chose a “Toy Story” cake, and they each got to keep a figurine from the cake.

They had no trouble blowing out the candles! Too bad I’m a slow photographer, I missed it completely!

They enjoyed playing a game (or ten) of dominoes. These special “Toy Story” dominoes were given to us by a very good friend, and have been enjoyed immensely!Β 
My Mom got a motel room for the week just so the kids could enjoy the use of the motel pool! It was a hit! The scorching temperatures (the heat index was over 110 every day last week!) made swimming the perfect activity!
Leslie became a better swimmer this past week just by getting to go everyday, and Mitchell learned to swim without any floaties!Β 
Laci is a brave girl – we have to really watch her around water! Here she is having a grand time, even though I don’t think she can see a thing! πŸ™‚
Matthew just took it all in, poolside. πŸ˜‰
After swim time one night, Nana treated us all to ice cream! It was HOT! At 9:00 that night, the temperature was still in the nineties!
Laci was a mess! Good thing we ate it outside!
The kids also enjoyed playing at home – here Leslie and Stephen are playing on her top bunk.
The other kids enjoyed a game of Scrabble! Mitch is playing with Nana and his cousin, David Allen.
We had to have two games going! Here is Lauren and her cousin, Andrew.
We had such a good time with our loved ones. I have many more pictures to share, but I do not have time to share them all. We hated to see the week come to an end. I enjoyed many long chats with my sister and Mom, as well as some delicious meals that Mom and Melanie were kind enough to prepare for everyone, since I was nursing Matthew so much. Speaking of Matthew, I think everyone enjoyed meeting him. The other seven kids had a blast playing together! I am so thankful for a godly family to fellowship with. I only wish it could be more often.
A verse for my wonderful family:
I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,Β 
Phil.1:3

Valerie