Sunday, September 30, 2012

Back to school (and post 1000!)

Back to school, Jen?  On the final day before October? 

Well, when you get busy and have committed to posting a 19 day long epic vacation, your back to school gets postponed.

We returned from our trip with only a couple days to prepare for Bugs' first big day at jr high. 

The day before he started we picked up his schedule and he got his locker figured out.

All ready!

First day

The underclassmen get to begin without the big mean 8th and 9th graders there so that their first day is calmer and the school is easier to navigate.


Bye Bugs!

A few days later it was Potter's turn to join him.

He's grown about 4 inches this year! Sorry it's dark - he leaves at the butt crack of dawn!

And looks so old to me.  Strider never looked like this in 9th grade.

Little 2nd grade Princess started with Jedi 2 weeks later

Charter school this year, including uniforms

5th grade baby boy!

They, too, have to be ready an hour earlier than they are used to.  They leave at 7:15!

They both have a rigorous schedule this year but they are getting into it and I know they will succeed.

On the same day that elementary started, jr high had a wear-your-favorite-school-colors day.

Silly rivalry :/
Happy 1000 posts to me.  And thanks to you for reading!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Road trip 2012 - That's a wrap!

We traveled home via Pennsylvania-Ohio-Indiana-Illinois-Iowa-Nebraska-Wyoming-Utah.
In the middle we took part of a day to see some historic Mormon sights at Carthage and Nauvoo.

We visited the jail where the Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother were killed. 

Here is the room they were in when the mob attacked.

Joseph was shot through this window.

He fell to the ground outside near this well.  I appreciated hearing the service missionaries tell more detail than I previously knew and I'm glad the kids could see and feel the reality of the sacred ground on which we stood.  I am forever grateful to the prophet and all he endured for the Church.

Here are the kids in front of the (new) Nauvoo Temple.

And, back on the road. We made it to Nebraska and then Wyoming (with all its lovely scenery) before arriving home.

What will I miss?
The dozens of bridges we saw and crossed.  Plus the hills and the farms and the trees and the rivers. 

Playing the role of navigator
Happening upon new and exciting cities on the journey
Spontaneous cool stuff, like a crop duster flying right alongside us, passing trucks full of rabbits, or getting out of the van to throw rocks into the Mississippi for fun.
The rare getting-along moments

Reaching daily mileage goals

What can I live without?

Packing the suitcases over and over and over

(although the hard part was Strider's job)

Neverending corn crops

The oft cramped accomodations (both in the vehicle and some hotels)

Truthfully, I had withdrawls before we even reached home.  I didn't mind being on the road nearly as much I anticipated.  I easily could have stayed another week!  
Only 5 weeks home now and the reminders of the fighting and squabbling and the whining are fading into the distance while the happy parts remain.  Mostly.  Funny how that happens.
But overall it was an amazing 19 days of memories and 5400 miles worth of good times!  Thanks for hanging in there through all these posts. 
P.S.  My beautiful photo book of the trip arrived today!!
P.P.S. This is my 999th blog post :)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Road trip 2012 - Pennsylvania Finale

It's time to leave this beautiful state!

We stopped by the Penn State campus for some photos with the Lion.

And visited the Centre Furnace Mansion

This sycamore tree was alive at the time of the constitution's signing in 1787.

This is what historical iron furnaces look like.  There are many in central PA.

We left town and went to lunch at Friendly's.  We had eaten so seldom at restaurants on the trip and we wanted to celebrate.

Then we drove a couple hours to see the town where I was born, Somerset.

I don't know the address where we lived, so we just drove through town. 

It's so pretty there!

Strider using his first toll road as we traveled the Penna Turnpike.

It was important to me that we make a stop in southwestern PA to visit the 9/11 Flight 93 memorial. 

The kids learned quite a bit about the accident and the heroes that emerged from this tragedy. 

All the names are etched into this white stone wall.

This boulder sits in the field to mark the impact site of the plane.  It was a reverent place to be and as we passed the anniversary this year I was reminded of what it felt like to stand here.
Our last stop in PA was in Pittsburgh, where we had tickets for a Pirates game!
The city skyline from our seats

First major league game for everyone except me

Cool field

Cotton candy, peanuts, hot dogs - the works!


We got a hotel in Pittsburgh and left the next morning.
Bye Pennsylvania! If we had our wish, we'd visit often.