Ohio weather in Texas?

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The weather for the past couple of days has been way too reminiscent of Ohio weather. On Sunday, when we got home from church, the temperature was 92. By the time I got home from the grocery four hours later, it had dropped to 63. Nice cold front, unfortunately, no rain. Last week, we saw something we have never seen in Ohio, though. We watched a thundercloud form and travel over south Austin. It was neat to see in real life what I’ve only seen in textbooks.

We discovered that the three plugs that we plugged the electric heaters into on Sunday night were all on the same circuit, as they popped the breaker in the middle of the night. I decided it wasn’t cold enough for me to get up and do something about it when I discovered this in the early morning hours.

By Monday, it was still cold, but misted a majority of the day. Most of us kept out of the cold, misty weather by helping at the church’s clothes closet work day. Fun, but tiring, and of course, the children brought home several pieces of clothing. I’m impressed that the younger girls only had a small box each! The weather is warming up fairly quickly. Hopefully, it will be nice enough by Friday for us to hit the beach one last time before we head to Pittsburgh.

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Enjoying Texas

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Friday – Sunburns in April! The week before, we had tried to go to a beach that one of the staff here told us about. However, as we drove and drove along the road, it seemed as if maybe we had misunderstood the directions. We ended up at a different beach which was nice enough, but lots of mud. We enjoyed it for a couple of hours to include the time spent playing on the playground and watching a little lizard. This week, we found that we had been on the right road and had turned around when we were almost to the beach. The beaches here are very rocky and not very busy, at least on weekdays. There was a nice wide, shallow area for us to play in, and there was even a small section of sand where the children built castles, moats, and other unidentifiable objects. The best part about the whole thing is that it is only April and it is warm enough for us to comfortably spend time playing in the water.

Sunday – Had a wonderful worship service with Hill Country Church of the Nazarene in Cedar Park, Texas, celebrating the resurrection of Jesus, who took our sins away and conquered death so we could really live. Afterwards, there was an Easter Egg hunt for the children and a family from church invited us over for Easter dinner. The food was delicious and we really enjoyed visiting with a like minded family.

Monday – Pack 151 in Georgetown, Texas has allowed Eli and me to join their meetings for the past month and awarded Eli the gold and silver arrow points that he has earned. They were a very welcoming group and we will miss them. Troop 155 has also accepted the older boys at their Troop meetings.

Friday – Thanks to an Eversave buy in March, we were able to go to Pioneer Farms for half price. This was a neat place to see what some of the early settlers lives were like, including a cotton plantation, a German immigrant farm, an early Texan farm, and an Indian settlement. Although the children got tired out pretty early, it was still a fun day, and I came back even more thankful for the amenities we have now. I do so enjoy my electricity and indoor plumbing. And not having to grow or butcher my own food is nice. I suppose if my life depended on it, I could, but I’ve tried growing a garden, and wasn’t very successful! Besides, it would be a little difficult to find a place for a cow or chickens in the RV.

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Doors and Ants and Tires, Oh My!

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There seems to be something exciting going on around here every day. Below are just a few of our highlights from the past week.

Apparently, our bathroom door is so fragile that it can’t even take being slammed and then having an angry child “gently lean” against it. It took a little while, but Bob was able to free the scared child who had managed to push the door past the trim so it couldn’t be opened. Two hinges and a few adjustments later, the bathroom has a fully functioning door again.

Then there were the ants. It seems I have seen so many over the past couple of days. Maybe I just wasn’t aware of them before. Yesterday, Abigail and Olivia were watering some of the flowers for Carol, one of the owners here, when Abigail stepped in an anthill. Olivia called out for help, and Carol got to her in time to prevent any major encounter, but Abigail still got about a dozen bites on her feet. Now, everybody is on the lookout for anthills, reporting them to Donny, one of the staff here, who has the ant killer on his golf cart.

Changing the tubes on Adam’s bike was yet another learning adventure. Adam and I tried it last night, but couldn’t make it work, so I spent a little time researching how to change them. After that, Adam and I started working on it again. Donny came by and asked what we were working on, then proceeded to walk Adam through it. It’s interesting that when Adam and I tried to do it on our own the night before, we did it the wrong way, trying to put the tube around the rim, and then putting the tire over it. It did not seem possible that the tube we had would work on the rim we have. It just looked too big. But when we did it the right way, putting the tube into the tire, and then working it onto the rim, it fit fine. Hmmm. That sounds like life sometimes. When I try to do it on my own, I do it wrong and get to a point that it doesn’t look like anything will work, whereas if I ask God for some guidance and do it the right way, and it will work just fine.

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Muskogee to Lawton

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On Monday, April 4, we left the welcoming town of Muskogee, Oklahoma to head for Austin, Texas, with a short stop in Lawton, Oklahoma and a short stop in Sherman, Texas first. It’s always interesting to read the names of places we pass. My favorite was Lotawtah Rd., which, not surprisingly, was right by a large lake. Erica and I laughed about that one for quite a while!

As we got close to our destination, we thought it would be a good idea to follow the signs to the campground. We were wrong. The park we were staying at was on a military base. The signs led us to a gate that is only open on weekends during prime camping season. It is not a pleasant feeling to arrive where you think you need to be to find it locked up tight. We eventually did figure out how to get to the gate we needed to enter through, then drove through to the far reaches of the base where the RV park is. I don’t recall Army bases being so open to civilians.

Driving to the more desolate parts of the base, I saw a sign that said “Think Safety.” I jokingly said, “Yes, think safety, because you are at the far end of the firing range.” I made a few more jokes about it until we saw a sign on our left saying, “Danger – Do not enter. Impact area. Lasers may be in use.” The children in the van with me realized then that, although I was laughing, I was not kidding! The boys especially got a thrill out of hearing the explosions from the artillery training the next day.

Tuesday, on our way into Lawton to check out the house we lived in when dad was stationed at Ft. Sill and the church where I was saved, we stopped at the US Army Artillery Museum. This was a neat place that chronicled the history of artillery from the earliest Trebuchet to weapons used today. There was lots of big artillery, both in and out of the building. While some of the innovations were astounding, and I enjoyed seeing the old “portable” computer, the most amusing display was the mule on which they tried to strap a small cannon. They failed to take into account the mule’s reaction to having something shot off its back. This did not become a well used resource!

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Sherman, TX

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Sherman, Texas is not a very large town, and only has a few choices for RV parking. It is so difficult to determine what a park is going to be like over the phone. The place we ended up staying at, Meadow View Mobile Home & RV Park, had quoted me $23 per night and wasn’t going to charge extra for the children, since we would only be there for two nights. Turns out, this place was much more of a mobile home park than an RV park. And apparently the owner had recently changed the rates and the manager had forgotten that when I talked with her on the phone. So it was supposed to be $44 per night. We compromised at $30 per night. Which I feel was way too high, since there were no amenities at all. Not even a bathhouse. All we got was water, sewer and electric. And the sewer was too far away from the spot, so we had to wait until we had pulled forward on the way out of the park to dump the back tanks. To make things even worse, there was some kind of seed all over the park that was a little sticky burr. These seeds found their way into the rig and we were still picking up souvenirs our first couple of days in Austin! Ah, well, live and learn.

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Sequoyah’s Cabin

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This summer, we spent some time in Cherokee, NC. We arrived in time to go to the last showing of the season of the outdoor drama, “Unto These Hills,” which portrayed the challenges the Cherokee Indians faced when the United States government tried to relocate them to what is now Oklahoma. Part of the story involved Sequoyah, who, in addition to being a brave man who stood up for his people, also formed the Cherokee syllabary. Many of the Cherokee people were moved, and Sequoyah himself eventually moved west.

In Sallisaw, there is historic landmark, the centerpiece of which is the cabin Sequoyah built when he moved to Oklahoma. This was such a peaceful place, it almost seemed sacrilegious to even talk. The Oklahoma Historical Society has done an excellent job showcasing the tools and lifestyle of the times. It still amazes me that people of the early 1880s could have used such sophisticated tools. The amount of time that it must have taken just for everyday necessities is astounding. After all, they didn’t have a grocery store or even running water.

There is also an informative display on the formation of a written language, and specifically the Cherokee language. For one man to be able to isolate each sound of a language and assign a unique written symbol for it without anyone’s assistance is something that was never known before or since. What an awesome legacy this man has left.

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Just the Five of Us

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While Bob took three of the children back to Columbus for two of them to get retainers fitted, I was left here with only four children. The dynamics of only five people, rather than the usual nine was pretty different. There still weren’t enough Clics for all of the children’s ideas, but overall, they played together and helped each other out really well. I didn’t sleep much past 4:30 am any of the three days, thanks to Abigail on Monday and Wednesday and thunderstorms on Tuesday. I’m not a big fan of thunderstorms in a standard house. They are even more unnerving in a house on wheels.

After running laundry most of the day on Monday (only five loads this time!) and having Midtown RV Services out to repair a water leak in the back bathroom, we were off to the grocery. I know, fun times, right? Midtown was easy to deal with, fair in their prices, and came to us. Gotta like that.

Ian has gotten hooked on Myth Busters, so the children managed to use all of their screen time fairly early, watching Myth Busters episodes. While I attempted to catch up on scanning receipts and other important papers, the children passed the time with Play Dough, K’nex, Clics, fashion shows, a pretend party, and Zhu Zhu pets, since it was too cold to play outside.

The girls love doing fashion shows, where they dress up, come show off, then return to the dressing room to change outfits seven or eight times. Today, Eli just couldn’t take it anymore and had to join in. He’s pretty funny when he’s pretending to be a girl. The fun of the moment is running Zhu Zhu pets around the table, trying to keep them from falling off. We are so easily amused.

I got the task of dumping tanks for the first time today. It’s not really as bad as might be imagined, and according to Ian, I did pretty well for my first time. Thanks, Ian. Unfortunately, we won’t be going to church tonight, since Abigail has an eye infection and I don’t want to risk spreading it. On the brighter side, that means we’ll be home when the others get back, road weary though they may be.

My song of the week is Francesca Battistelli’s “This Is the Stuff.” It’s so easy to get caught up in our little frustrations, but God can use even the trying times to draw us closer to Him. Great song and great reminder!

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Little Luxuries

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As we were ruthlessly downsizing, we knew that we would make some mistakes, leaving items we really should have taken and taking things we really didn’t need. Last week, when I went back to the house, I was glad the trash and donations had not been taken care of yet, because I had discovered that I missed having a towel warmer, of all things! This was a Christmas gift from my dad. My children were the ones who actually encouraged me to set it up, and I figured I might as well use it since I had it set up. I loved it! I am not fond of coldness, so having a warm bathrobe was amazing. Moving into the RV, space was a big issue. We have a lot of storage, but fitting everyday life stuff for 9 people into 400 square feet was a challenge. I decided there was not room in the tiny bathroom for the towel warmer. Only a couple of showers later, I was regretting that decision. We arrived in Columbus last week to discover many things still in the house, one of which was the towel warmer. I was so excited to use it again that I decided it had to come back home with us. The only place I could find to store it is between the toilet and shower. Having to move it to the top of the dirty clothes hamper each day in order to be able to plug it in is only a minor inconvenience and so worth it for the joyful luxury of a warm bathrobe each day!

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A Week in Columbus

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Why is it that most errands seem to take so much longer than anticipated? Erica had an orthodontist appointment on Tuesday, 3/15. We were hoping to get Adam in also, so we were planning on a trip to Columbus for me, Erica and Adam. We knew this when we sold Girl Scout cookies, so made plans to pick up and deliver cookies while in town. For some reason, Ian thought this would be fun and decided to come with us. I do admit to a sense of excitement as we tried to quietly make it out of the rig at a quarter till 6 CST on Monday morning. We hit rain a few miles up the road, and didn’t turn the windshield wipers off until about 6 pm EST. That was about the same time that I noticed the excitement had completely worn off! We were so ready to be in Columbus!

After fourteen hours of driving, we arrived to find many more items still at the house than we expected. We thought donations had already been taken care of and what was left in the house was left for trash. I finally calmed down enough to sleep. The next morning, I was relieved to find out that donations hadn’t been taken yet.

Tuesday morning, we made it to the orthodontist’s office, expecting a short appointment. While there, the staff was able to fit both Erica and Adam in to get their braces off. Although their teeth are not in perfect position yet, we decided it was best to go ahead and remove them. When we gave Erica and Adam the option of having them taken off, they restrained themselves from jumping up and down, although barely! We were very glad to have been able to get this done today, even though we ended up being there 2 ½ hours. We made it home in time to grab some lunch and meet with the Time Warner tech before heading out to pick up and start delivering cookies.

We must have been more worn out than we expected, because all four of us woke up late on Wednesday. We made it to the library about 11:30 so we could get our internet fix, including getting Adam signed up for Facebook. He had been so looking forward to this that I couldn’t make him wait all week until we got back to Oklahoma. We delivered more cookies and visited with friends before heading out to the visitation for my grandma. She had been ill, and passed on Saturday. God worked out the timing perfectly so that I could be here for the funeral, which was Thursday morning. It was good to be able to spend some time with extended family.

Later, we were able to deliver the cookie money and visit some before finally having a little down time at the house. While we packed and prepared to head back to Oklahoma, there were a few odds and ends that I was trying to wrap up as well as cleaning the house a bit.

As Friday morning dawned, we loaded into the van and were able to roll out about 7 am EST. Unfortunately, we knew what lay ahead and were ready to be done before we even got out of Ohio! All except for Erica, that is. She had made herself a nice little cave in the second bench, and was quite happy. For a while.

We had done such a good job of only eating the food that we took with us that I had planned to stop at McDonald’s for supper on our way home. The timing seemed to work out, since we hit a quarter tank of gas for the second time at about 5 pm (I think this was Central time already!) I spent the next half hour watching for an exit that had both a McDonald’s and a decent gas station. After a while, I decided that wasn’t going to happen, so I stopped for gas at the next stop. About 15 minutes later, we finally saw a sign for McDonald’s at the next exit. It didn’t have a distance marked, which should have given me some clue. We ended up having to drive a couple of miles into the little town to find it.

Back on the road, the children started counting cows as we entered Oklahoma. If you’ve never played cows, you get one point for each pasture with cows that you call. Instead of competing, they cooperated to count over 200 from the state line to Muskogee. We also found 29 states in the license plate game. You’ve got to do something to keep focused while driving mile after mile! I decided the children should not be allowed to sleep for a lot of the trip and then eat McDonalds for supper. It gave them way too much energy during the last two hours of the trip, when I was exhausted.

Overall, it was a good week, and I accomplished much, but it is good to be home!

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Girl Scouts Birthday Party

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Happy 99th birthday, Girl Scouts! We joined with the Girl Scouts of Eastern Oklahoma at the Three Rivers Museum to celebrate on March 12th. The girls drew pictures of what Girl Scouts means to them, with the older ones doing theirs on a cloth mural. In addition to eating birthday cake, the younger girls made a pinecone bird feeder, older girls completed a scavenger hunt through the museum, and we all got a mini tour of the diesel switch engine on site. We couldn’t leave the museum without stepping out front to see the bronze statue of a little Girl Scout, holding up the Girl Scout Sign, with a stack of cookie boxes beside her. It seems that in 1917, the Mistletoe Troop in Muskogee baked cookies and sold them as a service project, thus starting a tradition that still endures.

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