Deaf + Hearing = One World

7 09 2008

Labor Day weekend was the time for LifeLight.  It is a HUGE outdoor Christian festival in Sioux Falls, SD.  It’s free and open to everyone.  My son and I signed up to volunteer for the weekend and we were excited to be a part of an event this big.  This whole event is staffed by volunteers and it was undoubtedly the best event I’ve attended of it’s kind.

Alex was enlisted to drive the parking “tram.”  This tram is actually a tractor that pulls a large trailer to which benches have been attached; which provides transportation to and from the parking areas to the various stages.  Since it was 90 degrees and the winds were somewhere around gale force (actually only 40mph, but who’s counting?), this was not the most ideal job for an asthmatic.  He was quite stern about not quitting on the fine folks of LifeLight however, so instead of quitting, we went to the emergency room instead for a nebulizer treatement and a new inhaler.

I was helping to coordinate those volunteers who’d signed up to work the vendor booths.  You know, the tables that are set up in mega rows that stock all manner of artist paraphernalia for the most ardent of fans.  Casting Crowns and Building 429 have really cool custom drum sticks by the way.  I know I personally sold over 50 million TWLOHA t-shirts in little over 90 minutes on Saturday evening.  Maybe it was only 30 million, but I lost count at some point due to the constant search for $5 bills to make change.  Why can’t these people just make everything cost $20 and set it so the ATMs only give out $20 bills (well, most places have it half right anyway 😉 )

When I wasn’t setting up merchandise, or selling merchandise, I was helping other volunteers get to those places that needed them.  This pretty much consisted of grabbing anyone who chose to stop at our table for more than 3 seconds and assigning them to a place to work.  That’ll teach them to linger around my work station, that’s for sure!

One of the many “vendors” in our area wasn’t a vendor at all, but a rather a wonderful family that was there to provide a service I’d never seen at a festival like this before.  This family, and their group of volunteers, are called “HandsInMotion.” They travel the Christian concert and festival circuit, providing signing services for those hearing impaired persons who, otherwise, would not be able to get nearly as much out of these largely auditory experiences.  It is estimated that only 3 to 6% of the hearing impaired community are Christians.

As I watched this family and their group serve those in need during the festival, I couldn’t help but wonder how it all got started.  Afterall, it’s not as if thousands of deaf folks flock to music festivals, right?  Actually, more would attend if they could “hear” the concerts.  Having an interpreter who specializes in music at these events, makes it possible for those who would otherwise be left out, to experience something very unique.

When I asked Jeff (the founder and director of H.I.M.) about this, he said that many years ago while attending a festival in Chicago, his wife noticed two deaf individuals who appeared to be very lost and just wandering.  She only new alphabet signing, but managed to find out why they were there and what they needed.  She recognized that there were no sign language interpretors because Christian concerts and festivals are outside the jurisdiction of the A.D.A, so they don’t have to provide them.

Jeff and his wife knew that this was the ministry to which God was calling them.  They found others willing to volunteer their gifts and talents and off they went.  They set up a non-profit organization do handle the requests of event organizers and coordinators throughout the U.S.  It took off!

Last year, this family earned just under $21,000 in their “real” jobs.  Of that, $6,000 went into direct support of this ministry.  They have set up their organization so that they CANNOT be paid from any funds received.  They sell small jewelry items at various events to help offset fuel and travel expenses for these events.  They drive a bus folks, so that’s A LOT of fuel!  All of their volunteers are just that.  Volunteers.  They pay their own way, provide their accomodations, etc.  Funds received by this organization are used to pay for continuing education for the volunteers, as well as to help teach others sign language so they can volunteer too!

Not only was I struck by the uniqueness of this ministry, but I was humbled by the passion and joy that ressonated with this family.  It was very easy to see that they truly loved what they were doing!  That was partly evident because their almost one-year-old son was with them from open to close (9am to 10pm) each day and their daughter was busy making more jewelry to sell (very moderately priced too, I might add).

Take a moment or three to stop by their site and check out their ministry in more detail.  Even better, if you use sign language or know someone who does, get involved!  They are always looking for more people to help out.  If you’re an artist and would like an interpretor for an event, contact Jeff at his site and he’ll do his best to help you out.

Bring the Word of God and the love of Christ to the 94 to 97% of the deaf world who hasn’t experienced it yet.  Make it possible for those who are deaf to “hear” the gospel; and become part of One World; His World.

Everybody Come “Singalong”

8 08 2008

Today is THE day!  It’s finally here.  Click HERE to download your FREE copy of Phil Wickam‘s live CD.  It will only cost you your email address.  The site says you’re signing up for his newsletter, but you won’t be spammed or otherwise bothered.

It’s GREAT music! By a TERRIFIC artist!  Recorded and made available by an INNOVATIVE company!  Check it out.  You won’t be disappointed (unless you don’t check it out)!

It’s All About Me

22 07 2008

I’ve seen this printed on many, many things recently and it really bugs me.  I’ll have to get into the wheres and whys at some point; but not today.  Today, I am writing just about that; me I mean.

I received an “unofficial” MEME from BooMama.

Anything I receive from Sophie demands immediate attention.


Because she is one absolutely wonderful, genteal, sweet, southern gal!  We are somehow related I’m sure.

I figured if she took the time to MEME herself; and asked others to MEME as well, the least I could do was oblige.  Afterall, that’s what southern related women (who both admire Popeye’s Chicken) do for one another.

So, here goes.  My very own MEME.  Now if you think that you have something better to do right now other than read my MEME, such as laundry, dusting, or watching the grass grow; feel free.  I do however think that if you miss this opportunity to learn these wonderful details about me, well, then, I’m sure you will be somehow less informed in some respects.  Afterall, it IS all about ME!

What were you doing 10 years ago?

First I had to do the math to see just when that was.  Oh yeah, 1998.  I was residing in England.  In our small, but quite adequete house.  During this exact month at that time, I was on vacation in the U.S.  We came back once every two years to make sure our family hadn’t sold all our stuff and to let the grandparents see that they really did have grandchildren.  Since all this family seeing involved travel from Maryland to Michigan to Florida and back, we were probably in the car for most of this trip.

Favorite Snacks

Diet Coke (this isn’t really a snack as far as I’m concerned.  It’s a staple)

White Cheddar Popcorn

Trail Mix (the kind with peanuts, chocolate chips, M&Ms and raisins)

Ice Cream (anything with Reeces Peanut Butter Cups works for me)

To Do List

First off, let me say that having one of these usually means that I intend to actually DO something worthwhile.  Depending on the day and the mood, I try to avoid these types of things so my list is often sporadic and on ocassion, even goes missing.

Right now though and in no particular order:

1. Laundry (that’s kinda a never ending one with 4 kids)

2. Lunch with my youngest (age 8)

3. A shower (try to get one of these everyday)

4. Bible study (right now I’m reading through chronologically)

5. Cooking a meal or three

6. Convincing oldest child (age 18) that it will not actually kill him to clean his room.

7. Check e-mail and write something for the blog.

8. Prepare a 20 minute presentation for my new boss (due Thursday)

9. Take our 15 year old to an eye appointment.

Jobs I’ve Had

radio DJ; radio station promotions assistant; church nursery worker; German/Russian Linguist; Combat photographer; Intelligence Analyst; pre-school teacher; tax preparer; EMT; EMT instructor; office manager; and all those things that come along with parenting 4 children and being married to a career Air Force man.

Places I’ve Lived

Florida, Arizona, Tennessee, Texas, California, Illinois, Hawaii, England and North Dakota.  (We have land in Michigan and I had a MI driver’s license for 17 years, but I’ve never actually physically lived there!)

Bad Habits

procrastination, nail biting, too much TV and internet, over eating, under (read:avoid at all cost) exercising, over spending, under cleaning.

5 Random Things People May Not Know About Me

1.  I caught a 98 pound tarpon when I was 14 years old.

2.  My favorite flavor of chewing gum is Teaberry.  It’s hard to find these days!

3.  I had dinner with Rick Springfield and did a live interview with Adam Ant.  (Kudos to you if you actually know who these guys are!)

4.  I use a Blackberry phone.

5.  I met my husband when I traveled to Michigan to be in his older brother’s wedding.

CDs I would want if stranded on a desert island (this is a tough one!)

Shaun Groves, Michael W. Smith’s Freedom, the extended soundtrack of The Phantom of the Opera, Taylor Sorenson, Kutless, Michael Olson, Steven Curtis Chapman

Things I would do if I were a billionaire

1. Pay off all debt

2. Build our retirement home (much smaller than our original plan, yet more than adequate)

3. Ensure all the kiddos had some funds to pursue their life ambitions.

4. Take the whole family to see all three of the children we sponsor through Compassion (Haiti, Ecuador, and Columbia)

5. Contribute enough to our church to ensure that a minimum of 30% was being spent on each of these: effective missions and children/youth programs.  Adult discipleship would be another major chunk.

6. Contribute generously to other charities we support such as Compassion.

7. Refuse to be in debt, live modestly, and truly learn the definition of “enough.”

8. Invest in a Chick-Fil-A so I can have one near me whenever I want!

I am so impressed with myself!  Not only did this force me to actually have some sort of “to do list” today, but I actually had to use a few brain cells and think.  Now, I have a headache and I’m sure it’s due to the death of several brain cells.

If you are so inclined to have your own “MEME Day,” please feel free to do so.  Come back here and link to your MEME page so we can all get to know you better!

Sonshine Fest: Great Time: 1 – Sleep: 0 – Rescued Children: ?

20 07 2008

Buddy and I headed a couple of hours east this weekend for lots of music and very little (read:none) sleep.  No, I did not acquire a different husband, nor did we adopt any children recently.  Buddy is our only son, Alex.  I call him “Buddy” because, well, somehow, it makes it seem less “real” that he’s almost 19, over 6 feet tall, a high school graduate and not “my little boy” anymore.  We’ve always been buddies though and he doesn’t mind the moniker at all; so I take advantage whenever I can!

We headed to Sonshine Festival to work with Compassion International.  This particular outdoor festival is held annually, in Willmar, MN.  It started on Wednesday with a free concert by Jars of Clay.  The “official” festival began on Thursday.  We opted to go until Friday, because I can only manage so many sleepless nights before my normal level of insanity rises to a very-difficult-to-manage-scary-mom level.  It’s not pretty I assure you.  My kids will tell you too; once they come out of hiding.

Upon our arrival, we began the search for the “perfect” camping site.  Now, keep in mind here, that when I say “camping,” what I actually mean is purchasing our food from festival vendors and sleeping in a pick up truck.

Our family is actually quite adept at camping.  The real kind, with tents, tarps, open fires, backpacks, nature, forests, mosquitoes and such.  But, for such a short trip and just two of us, we opted for what we thought would be the easier option.  We’d just sleep in the truck.  Our pickup truck has a short bed.  Just 5 1/4 feet long.  This is generally OK for just about anything.  Anything that is, except sleeping when you’re 5’10” and 6’1″ respectively.   We will NOT discuss weight issues here as that’s strictly verboten!

After much driving around said festival site, we finally found the perfect spot.  Perfect here in the sense that it was, mostly level, not full of water, and in close proximity to the bathrooms.  In our case, close proximity was actually VERY close.  We ended up parking right next to a very lovely row of little blue “huts” filled with alcohol-based sanitary wash, mammoth sized rolls of toilet paper, and air freshener cakes the size of pizzas and you know; the stuff that these little huts are designed to be filled with.

On a not-so-side-note, the great people of Sonshine Fest did a fantastic job of keeping the porta potties clean and stocked and the trash skips emptied. Never have I been in a cleaner porta potty!

We got to see Hawk Nelson, Barlow Girl, David Crowder Band and Toby Mac and many others.  Check out the site to see a complete list.  The Compassion booth was set up right next to the artist autograph tables so we had a birdseye view of lots of signings.  Poor Toby didn’t quite know how to respond to the lady that got his signature and walked away without receiving the obligatory “knucke rap” from him.  He looked dejected to say the least.  She soon returned however and he was fine.

Suffice it to say that after a long day of outdoor work, I was not inclined to be encased in said truck bed with my son; or anyone else for that matter!

Being the gentleman that Buddy is (he truly is a sweetheart!), he said that he’d sleep in the cab so I could have the truck bed (lined with self-inflating sleep pads) to myself.

You moms are saying ” how sweet!  What a thoughtful boy.  Now she has the entire truck bed to herself!”

The sons are saying “what a pushover!  Little does she realize that the windows in here open wider and I have the keys if I feel the need for air conditioning or music beyond the 12 hours I’ve already listened to.”

Bedding down for the night was supossed to be fairly straight forward.  Notice I say supossed to be.  Does everyone here know “Murphy” or does he only live at my house?  First off, two of the three self-inflating sleep mats we packed would not self-inflate.  Apparently, in order for these wonders to work, they cannot contain any holes; or have the valves cut off.  Guess we missed this little tidbit when packing.  So, now I had one inflated pad and two “cotton swabs” to sleep on.  No problem.  I’m tough.  How bad can it be?  Well, let me tell you how bad it can be!  First off, the bottom of a truck bed isn’t actually flat.  It’s “ribbed.”  That means that it’s more like sleeping on a horizontal ladder than in a bed.  Add this to the humid weather, the bright lights, the loud music, and the even louder 13,000,000 teenagers we happened to be sharing the camping field with, and this does not make for ideal sleeping conditions.

No, it does not.  It doesn’t even come close!  In fact, it comes closer to how-stupid-are-you-that-you-actually-think-you-are-going-get-any-sleep-while-here-conditions.

Actually, not close at all.  Perfect actually.

After a sleepless night of trying to find just the perfect section of ladder to rest on, combined with feeling and hearing my son toss and turn all night along with the other 13,000,000 of us, I opted to go ahead and let Saturday morning begin despite not being able to remember when Friday night ended.

Realizing that the many food vendors present were not properly stocked up on anything remotely “breakfast” oriented, if you don’t count the mini fried donuts and the funnel cakes, we decided to risk losing our perfect camping spot in order to seek out genuine breakfast-type sustainence in town.  Our search didn’t take long and we were rewarded with a very filling, carbohydrate-laden, sweet-tooth-satisfying meal.  $25 later, we returned to the festival to begin day two.  As luck would have it, we found what we thought was an even more perfect camping spot.  Right in front of the entrance to the civic center and aptly located near the REAL restrooms!  Sorry porta potty.  I was opting for indoor plumbing.

Properly parked and armed with all our necessary festival attending gear, we headed in to do our duty.  For those of  you who may not be Christian-music-outdoor-festival-officianados, let me give you the rundown.

First, never go to one of these events without the proper seating equipment.  By this I mean, the folding camping chair.  Of course, we forgot ours so a quick trip to Wallyworld was in order.

Next, don’t forget the big, golf umbrella.  Because if you can count on one thing (even more than music) at these events, it’s rain; or sun, or wind, or hail, or snow, or sleet, or any combination thereof.  We forgot this too.

Third, you will tend to dehydrate while sitting outdoors at said festival so bring a big cooler with lots of water.  We forgot this too.

Fourth, NEVER attend these types of things without copious amounts of sunscreen.  You WILL burn to a crisp in a matter of mere minutes.  Trust me, I know these things from years of first hand experience.  I grew up in south Florida afterall.  We forgot this too.

Also, a hat.  To protect you from the same things as the umbrella, but on a smaller level; just in case the umbrella has to use the facilities, or blows away in the wind; or is “procured” by a more needy individual.  Yep!  We forgot these too.

Did I mention that this was our first event of this type?



I just assumed you’d have figured this out by now.

After all this festival-attendance-required-gear-purchasing (and a quick check to see how much our Wallyworld stock went up), we settled in for what we hoped would be another great day of music and and even greater day for potential sponsors of Compassion children.  We were not disappointed (sleep deprived, but not disappointed)!

At the festival’s end, (awesome close out by The Newsboys), we returned to our “home-away-from-home” for what we hoped would be a better night’s sleep.  NOT!  We switched places this time, but it didn’t matter any.  We just tossed and turned in different spots.  I had to fend off the pesky seat belt buckles instead of the horizontal ladder, and the parking lot lighting was bright enough to simulate daytime just about anywhere.  Combined with the constant noise from the all night deconstruction of the concert stages and the ever-departing vehicles of various sizes and sounds, this was worse than the first night.  Note:  Do not park next to the motorcycle parking area if you want any sleep at all.  Or near the main stage.  Or in the well-lit parking lot.  Or within 20 miles of the festival for that matter.

At 6:15 AM, after finally giving up on any prospect of sleep, we dressed and made our way home.

It was an almost perfect weekend!  Not only were we privvy to some truly gifted and passionate artists, with incredible amounts of talent (and lots of ear-drum-popping-equipment), but we were blessed to be a part of a record breaking event!  Last year, just over 400 hundred children were rescued from poverty by people who were willing to give a little so others could have the means to live.  This year?  Over 525 children were sponsored!  EVERY child that was marked “priority” (one who’s waited over 6 months for a sponsor) was sponsored.  I spoke to many new sponsors who said they were searching for a way to make a difference.  They were excited about the prospect of being able to impact a life in such a powerful way.  God makes the impact; we are His tools.  We were well used this weekend and it was wonderful.

Next stop?  Higher Ground in Winstead, MN.  Hope to see you there!

Bring your required festival gear; and ear plugs; and a sleep mask; and the number to the nearest hotel with vacancies.

Small Sacrifices

1 07 2008

As I stood in the grocery checkout line today, I perused the magazine headlines.  “Lose 10 pounds in a week.”  “The new squid diet.”  “Eat all you want, and still lose weight.” I was interested!  After all, who can’t rely on tabloids to keep us accurately informed on the latest health news?  But alas, no dieting for me today I tell ya.  No sir!  Not this gal.  Tomorrow though, I’m ready to make the “sacrifice.”

I plan to eat well tonight because I’m scheduled to fast all day tomorrow.  That means that I will go the entire day without food.  A WHOLE DAY!  Of course I will have all the clean, fresh, cold water and caffeine free diet coke I can handle while going without this food.  If I’m lucky, I might even shed just one of the 60 or so extra pounds of body weight I currently possess.  I will also get to consume all this water and diet coke while sitting comfortably in my air conditioned suburban home; watching TV or reading a book.

I will go without food for one day so that one child may be able to eat one meal tomorrow.  That one meal will most likely consist of rice or beans and maybe some vegetables, but, will be prepared with clean water.  That one meal will also most likely be given only to that one family member.  There’s simply not enough to feed an entire family one meal a day.  Some of these families have several children.  Tough choices have to be made.  Which child do we enroll in the Compassion International Project in our village?  How do we decide which child gets enough?  What about our other children?

Have you had to ask these same questions about any of your children lately?

According to the latest statistics from the UN, 30,000 children under the age of 5 die EVERY DAY from preventable diseases.

30,000!  That’s 2/3’s the population of the city I live in!

Most of these children die because they lack clean drinking water, basic immunizations, and enough food to adequately nourish their frail little bodies.  They die because their parents, or other care providers had to make a tough choice.  A choice that most Americans can’t even imagine.

Why can’t we imagine?

Nearly 2/3’s of Americans over age 20 are overweight or obese.  Nearly 1/3 are clinically obese (BMI>30).

Less than 1/3 are considered to be at a healthy weight.

Approximately 17% of US children and adolescents are overweight.

The number one vegetable served to American toddlers over the age of 15 months is french fries.  French fries?  I’m betting not many toddlers have to be tricked into eating those veggies.

Unfortunately, the second set of statistics get a lot more press and attention here in the U.S. In the “West” in general actually.  They’re important to be sure.  The health crisis in America is largely due to poor eating habits (too much fat and sugar) and lack of exercise.  Some say that our life style will soon cripple the health care system because there will simply be too many morbidly obese, out of shape people to adequately care for.  Of course, these people will obviously be alive and well over the age of 5 when we’re attempting to provide this care.  We won’t be relying on help from others either.  The others, the first group of statistics, will not be here to care for us.  They died today.  30,000 more will die tomorrow.  And yet another 30,000 the next day.  That’s 10,980,000 (almost 11 million) this year alone.

While I realize my opening paragraph is dripping with sarcasm (or my poor attempt at it anyway), my intent is not sarcasm at all.  Don’t let my poor attempts keep you from action.

Please, please rescue a child today.  Spare just one family from the tragedy of choosing which child gets to live.  Chisel away at the number of children who die each day by making a small sacrifice.

I will “sacrifice” one day of meals tomorrow.  Believe me when I tell you that’s it’s truly NO sacrifice; not even a little one.  It’s a place to start.  It’s a small step that has the potential to change the world.

What will you sacrifice?

40 Day Fast-Check It Out

23 06 2008

Hello Dear Friends,

Check out the list on the right.  You can’t miss it.  It’s the really LONG one with all the names and dates.  No, it’s not some super birthday list I created or anything like that.  It’s a list of wonderful folks who’ve teamed up this year for the 2nd Annual 40 Day Fast.  You can find out more by going to Inspired To Action.  This fast started last year in response to this photo:


Please take a few minutes each day to do a few simple things that could have a HUGE impact:

1.  Pray for the team that’s fasting on each given day.

2.  Check out their blogs, websites, etc. and read what they’ve posted. (You can do this by simply clicking on their name!)

3.  Leave them a comment telling them how the article impacted you.

4.  Go to the website(s) of any particular organization they are blogging about and learn how YOU can help.

5. Ask God what He wants you to do.

6.  DO IT!!!

Please don’t casually dismiss the above photo as “shock appeal” without any relavance.  It’s real and it’s time to do something to change this reality.

Bulletproof Living,


I’m Still Here (Get a Cupa. This is a LONG One)!

11 06 2008

OK.  I know you’ve all (well, Cristy anyway) missed me so much and are anxiously sitting on the edge of your seat for my next installment of wit and wisdom.  I didn’t fall off the planet, I’ve just returned from a vacation with my family.  Yes, a real, honest-to-goodness-entire-family-in-one-car-driving-LOTS-of-(expensive) miles-vacation!

We left right around O’ dark hundred (that’s the military equivalent of WAY before anyone should be up and expected to function) on Memorial Day and headed to Ohio.  We stopped in Indiana (sorry I didn’t call Cristy!) the first night where Country Inn and Suites were quite happy to lend us two rooms for the night.  Two rooms not only allows us to each have an actual (not fold away) sleeping space, it means that not all of us are subjected to the “jet noise” that is present any (and EVERY) time my husband has his eyes closed.  Since I am the one that shares a bed with him, I did remember to pack the extra heavy duty ear plugs however.  After partaking of their included breakfast of waffles, cereal, and juice the following morning, we finished our journey to Sandusky, OH; official home of Cedar Point Amusement Park.  I was able to take the girls there last year with my best friend and her kids and we had a blast.  This is a place that my husband has wanted to go all his life.  Growing up in Michigan as he did meant this was pretty close, but not close enough for a family of 10 to travel to on one income and many hungry mouths to feed.

So, since the Air Force decided not to have Scott spend his summer at the “beach” on the coast of Qatar, we decided that we’d take what could possibly be our last “whole family” vacation.  Alex (our oldest and only son) graduated from high school this year and will soon be heading for mission fields abroad.

We had purchased a package plan which included our hotel, full day tickets to the theme park and the (outdoor) water park and evening tickets to the theme park as well.  After we checked into our rooms and unloaded the van, the kids and I opted for the much warmer indoor water park, while my husband opted to get our much used van checked out before the rest of our trip.

Now, let me remind you (for those who may not be daily visitors here) that I had foot surgery 5 weeks ago (3 weeks at the beginning of this trip) and I was sporting a very fashionable fracture boot and a cane (I’d graduated from the crutches the day before our trip).  So when I say that I opted for the water park, what I really mean is that I opted to watch the kids and read a book at the water park.  I got to experience all of this fun for the same low, low price as actual admission to the “water” part of the water park.  It did look like great fun though and I still got to smell the chlorine and the kids did manage to drip all over me when they stopped long enough to tell me how great everything was.

After a very tasty dinner at TGI Friday’s, my hubby and three of the four kids headed out to use the evening admission tickets to the theme park.  Being the “extreme adventurists” they are, they figured they’d need that extra evening to truly experience all the roller coasters available.  My “less adventuous” child (loves fast, spinning things, but not things on tracks that could possibly go upside down or rattle her skinny body to death) and I opted for a cozy evening of TV and snacking.

Soon after our arrival and check-in, it soon became very apparent that we forgot something essential to the success of our SUMMER vacation; jackets!  Being from North Dakota you’d think that temperatures in the high 40’s and low 50’s would be just fine with us.  Normally, it would.  However, by late May, we’ve already changed our blood from the winterized version to the much thinner summer version and we weren’t prepared for this shock to our temperature control systems.  The vacation package did not include winter apparel so we headed to the local Meijers (l heart that store BTW!) for some long sleeve stuff.  Temperatures being what they were, winter clothing should’ve been easy to find, but it seems that those in Ohio had recently changed their blood to the summer version too, so we didn’t have much to choose from.

Mary (our youngest and the absolute best at getting anything she wants from her daddy), got an “official” Cedar Point hoodie to keep her warm, but the rest of us needed something.  I happened upon a great micro fleece jacket for our soon-to-be 12 year old for $5 that was her school colors!  Very cool indeed.  Next we headed to the men’s department so we could find something for Alex.  He saw a red jacket and picked it up.  Only $8 on clearance.  Upon seeing said jacket though, I screamed and told him to drop it immediately and run to the nearest hand sanitizer dispenser and scrub hard; very hard.  You see, he’d picked up something terrifying.  I can scarcely manage to mention it here for fear young children may read this.  Yes, he actually held in his tender little hands, a jacket from (YIKES!) Ohio State!  (We tried to make it to Michigan when I went into labor with him, but he was really born in Illinois).  I gently, but firmly explained to him that under NO CIRCUMSTANCES would ANYTHING Ohio State EVER grace our Michigan bodies.  It would be sacrelige to say the least!  We eventually managed to find something suitable and non-threatening to our Michigan heritage, and headed to the park.

The weather being what it was, we also didn’t think about sunscreen.  This would prove to be a very painful ommission for our oldest daughter, Kelly.  She is known in our family as the “pasty white English girl.”  Merely muttering the word “sun” has been known to cause her to turn pink.  You see, fashion being the upmost to most American 15 year old girls, she opted to freeze rather than wear the sweatshirt she’d remembered to actually pack (no wonder she had her own suitcase!).  This left her with a mere two shirts on; both of the “tank” variety.  That sun was tricky though.  Hiding behind the wind and the clouds allowed it to sneak up on Kelly, totally unawares.  She was VERY aware later that night however.  Ever seen a Maine lobster after it comes out of the steamer?  That’s pretty much what she looked like after a day at the “Point.”  She managed to utter “Solarcaine” between cries of pain so we headed off to Meijers again in search of pain relief.

Back up a minute.  To the part after the jacket search, but before the sunburn.  Since I was relatively confident in knowing that I’d not make it more than 30 feet into the park under my own power, I opted for the much more comfortable option; a motorized scooter.  My aforementioned “less adventuous” daughter and I headed off to the spinning very fast, but not upside down, rides, while the others headed to the roller coasters again.  My husband is quite a roller coaster fan too so of course he decided it would be his fatherly duty to “supervise” the other children on these rides.  Normally, I would have fought him for this privelige, but since I couldn’t figure out how to get the scooter strapped safely into the coaster seat, I decided to forego them this trip.  I will say though that I had an absolutely terrific time watching my less-adventurous daughter ride everything she wanted to, multiple times and experience the sheer joy she held on her face.  It was great to spend a day with her.  The very close second place joy-providing-experience would undoubtedly be lunch at Chik-Fil-A.  Diet Lemonade AND chicken nuggets!  Pure heaven (almost)!

Following all the roller coaster fun (yes, Kelly and Scott rode the “Dragster”), we headed to Michigan to see family.  We made a brief stop in Lowell just to make sure our newest niece hadn’t grown too much since we’d seen her at Christmas.  She’s grown some, but was still at the very acceptable, cuddly, cheek-pinching stage.  Onward to Traverse City and the folks.  Grammy made beef barbeques for dinner.  Macknezie (the skinny, picky, never likes anything kid) only ate three!  Grammy makes THE BEST everything according to her.  I’ll gladly take second to this woman in any category.  She is awesome indeed.  This best meal was followed up by another week of awesome meals and even awesomer desserts.  I LOVE this woman!

We have a piece of land in Michigan that we bought years ago in hopes of retiring there someday.  It’s beautiful and almost completely covered in trees.  This is great except that it’s hard to build a house on it (unless you’re the Robinson family) until some of the trees are cleared.  This necessary clearing meant that my hubby and son spent a few days playing with power tools (can you say FUN?).  Chain saws were sharpened and oiled and off they went.  Many trips and a few blisters later, the folks have plenty of wood for the winter and we have room for a house amongst (not in ) the trees.  And because the oldest sister of my hubby got word that baby brother was bringing the chain saws (and the big, willing to work for food, son) home for a visit, she decided that it would be an opportune time to have a very big and very house-foundation-invading tree from her lot as well.  We set off again to their home for the big tree trimming.  We don’t need much (if any) of an excuse to get together for a party involving food, so of course this event more than qualified.  Since none of our family was able to travel to ND for graduation, we brought the graduate to them!  We had a small, but very important party to commemorate this momentous occasion for Alex.  He was surprised to say the least and even more surprised that the topper on the cake was the same one that was on his dad’s cake when he graduated in 1983.  Yes, it’s still around.

After a week of Grammy’s cooking (and a trip to Meijer’s again for larger clothing), we headed to the U.P. for our final vacation stop.  Aunt KKay and Uncle Matt’s house.  This is my kids FAVORITE stop on any vacation.  It could be because they have a very cool creek that runs behind their house; perfect for swimming, spashing, and boating in.  It could be due to the woods that are perfect for fort building and “wild animal” hunting.  It may also be due to the readily available frogs in the pond, just waiting to be caught (again and again!).  I personally think it’s because Aunt KKay is also a wonderful cook (learned from Grammy of course) and it’s the only time they all get to camp out on the living room floor with all their cousins!  Maria (my 6 year old niece) thinks the very best seat in the house is right in cousin Alex’s lap.  Ben (my 4 year old nephew) also thinks that Alex plays table hockey and Uno better than anyone else in the world.  Jake (my 10 year old nephew) is thrilled that he BEAT Alex at table top hockey.  Maria and Mary (often just shortened to MariaMary) played dress up for hours and spent more time taking “tubbies” than any kid should be allowed.  These were “just for fun tubbies” as opposed to the “take a bath to get clean” tubbies; so they were happy to spend hours in the tub bathing every doll in the house.

Upon completion of a long weekend at the coolest Aunt and Uncle’s house, we headed home once again.  I had a lot of fun on this trip because I didn’t have to drive.  I got to sit in the passenger seat with my mp3 player loaded with lots of Shaun Groves, Leeland, Phil Wickham and the soundtrack to The Phantom of the Opera, my “Mater” pillow and a HUGE caffiene free diet coke (I know, full of adventure, that’s me!).   The kids had books, dvds and card games to play.  My husband had his quart of diet Dew.  Who could have anything BUT a great vacation?  I did some great reading on this trip too and will post about this next.  This post is already a record breaker and besides, I’m sure Cristy has to “go” by now anyway.

Thanks for going on vacation with us.  I hope you had as much fun!