Friday, November 17, 2017

Breathing Again

For the past several weeks I feel like I have been chasing life and getting farther behind every day. Yesterday I was almost in tears. I didn't know where to start and so I started by dropping everything and taking Anna to the store to pick out her birthday plates and napkins. It seems like a minor detail, but getting her birthday settled in her mind was a huge relief to me. Aliza took the day in stride and let me help her figure out how to fit school and play into her day. She was much happier throughout the day. At 4:00 all 4 children went outside to play. They played happily for about an hour and it was the hour I needed. The house was quiet and empty! I got some cleaning done and some extra cleaning and supper started. When Isaiah came in and asked me to push him on the swing, I said yes. That was a magical moment--I said yes! And I smiled and we went outside. He said, "Mommy, I run so fast to swing and be a rocket." He chattered away and I pushed him like a rocket.
And I took a picture because is was a little moment and I wanted to remember how much my perspective can change in a hour and with a yes.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Celebrating Grandad

 Does this man look 90?! He gets it all the time--people can't believe that Grandad is 90. Grandad is definitely 90 years young. He drives and gardens and today was telling me about the Bible study group he is teaching.
We spent the afternoon at my parents eating lunch and spending time together. Grandad's sister, brother in law and nephew came from Pennsylvania which added just the right "special" to the day. Other local friends stopped in during the afternoon.

All of us girls felt the sting of Gramma's absence. Gramma LOVED celebrating and visiting and reason for good desserts. But here's the thing--now that Gramma is gone, I call Grandad and talk to him. And so I am very thankful for this time with Grandad. That I can show just him that I love him and that he can be a part of our every day lives. Every day of life is a gift, but I'm thinking that maybe every day of life after your 90th birthday is an extra special gift.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Texas Family Time

Last weekend was our time with Jeremy's brother, Josh, and his family. They visit once a year and it is a highly anticipated weekend with cousins and spending nights at Uncle Joel and Aunt Brandi's house.
Saturday afternoon we took an excursion to Harper's Ferry. We walked walked out to Jefferson Point where you can see the Potomac River and the mountains. Then we walked down to the mountain to the downtown area of Harper's Ferry.


The Heslop Men

The Heslop Girls



Our group of 14 managed to get separated in the process of finding bathrooms once to we got into Harper's Ferry. It also started sprinkling. While Joel and Jeremy went back up the mountain to retrieve the cars, I dragged my children to another lookout point. From this point we could see the Shenandoah River meet the Potomac River. I thought it was beautiful. The gray sky made the colors of the leaves stand out.
And then I realized that you could walk across the bridge and I thought that would be so much fun! lol.
It was fun for me (and Brandi--I think!).
And it was really pretty.
We missed out on ice cream in Harper's Ferry, but our car stopped and got some on the way back. Isaiah was very pleased because he started talking about ice cream way back when we were walking down the mountain.
We ate pizza that night. Anna and Evelyn were sitting beside each other and with their pig tails and blonde hair they looked like they could be sisters.
Florence is 17 months old and she came to snuggle on my lap once in a while.
Other highlights of the weekend were Thanksgiving dinner, seeing Joanna Gaines new line in Target and watching the first couple of episodes of This is Us. Oh! And pumpkin spice bagels and chai.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Joy Dare::October

4792. Unpacking Gramma's Christmas villages
4793. Welcoming my aunt, cousin and her boys
4794. Loving my mom
4795. Choosing more of Gramma's treasures and closing this chapter
4796. Aliza helping SO MUCH taking care of the younger children
4797. Time with Hannah
4798. Making birthday treats
4799. Quiet car during dance--I read!
4800. New pajamas
4801. Celebrating Isaiah
4802. Isaiah loving his birthday
4803. Fall morning at the beach
4804. Awesome shells
4805. Gramma memories today
4806. Sunglasses
4807. Chick-fil-a laughing with Aliza and Josiah
4808. Singing in the car
4809. Attending a wedding
4810. A day with Jeremy
4811. A couple hours (that flew by) with Matt and Chrissy
4812. Grandparents who love spending a day with their grandchildren
4813. Isaiah learning to play Memory
4814. All of the girls' fun with makeup
4815. Chrissy remembered something I told her a long time ago
4816. Josiah had a most amazing attitude about school today
4817. Peaceful, priceless moments
4818. Aliza singing with me
4819. Time to sit beside Jeremy
4820. Another great day of school with Josiah
4821. Aliza's total excitement over Dancing with the Stars
4822. Aliza hasn't had too much pain with her expander
4823. Afternoon visiting with my Mom
4824. The new stuff I think about from Bible study
4825. Meghan doing schoolwork with my kids
4826. Introducing my friend to Grandad
4827. A scrapbook page this evening
4828. Writing a real letter
4829. Choir wasn't as bad as Josiah thought it would be
4830. Evenings at home
4831. Weekend pajama mornings
4832. They are weeds but the purple flowers in the yard are pretty anyway
4833. A morning with friends
4834. A card in the mail
4835. Steak for dinner
4836. Sharing common theology
4837. Walking to the car with Lydia and I get to ask her about her day and hear a story or two
4838. Isaiah so tired he chose my lap
4839. Anna ate at the big kids table
4840. Easy 3 year old well check
4841. Picnic, playground and trails
4842. Aliza enjoying creation and the moment
4843. A friend to help Jeremy with his car
4844. Sweet conversation with Anna
4845. Taking advantage of a beautiful afternoon
4846. A thoughtful, generous, surprising gift of thanks
4847. Family time!
4848. Beautiful falls on the Potomac River
4849. Hotel, pool, family slumber party
4850. Super fun trail to the other side of the falls
4851. Experiencing the C & O Canal
4852. Memories made
4853. Happy playing this morning after being away
4854. Hot tea
4855. Having a 4th grader this year
4856. Leading worship went well
4857. Orange dance costumes in the black light
4858. Aliza making Sean giggle
4859. All of Isaiah's plans to play with Grandma
4860. First tea
4861. The pecans were so pretty on the tree
4862. Aliza so excited that her Daddy successfully ordered (he had to wake at 3am to order as soon as the iPhoneX was released) the phone he's been waiting for
4863. Having Mom off work for a whole week was so nice
4864. Friend time, tea and shopping
4865. Sister and brother in law who love my kids
4866. Shopping with my daughters
4867. Sunday naps
4868. Choir practice went better for Josiah
4869. Isaiah's stories
4870. Candy and a movie
4871. Got our work done and relaxed this afternoon
4872. Tried not to hurry today
4873. I now own a cardigan--and I might wear it every day!

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Great Falls--Maryland

Thanks to the room darkening curtains in the hotel room, everyone slept in really late. I almost had to wake up Isaiah so that we could make it down to breakfast before it closed. At breakfast, I had the big idea to go to the Maryland side of Great Falls before we went into DC to the National Arboretum. Everyone was up for that and I'm so glad we went. We had the best time there. I packed lunches for Saturday and Sunday so we ate our lunch on the grass beside the C & O Canal. Josiah was super jealous of all the people bike riding. One day we need to go back and ride the towpath on bike. Our lunch view was very idyllic.
After lunch we walked to the falls overlook. The views from the trail were as amazing as the Potomac River itself. The trail was completely boardwalk with concrete bridges. Josiah and Anna were quite fearful of the bridges, but they conquered them with our hands and/or arms.
The hills, the coloring leaves, the water, the warm fall air and blue sky, it was just beautiful!




And then we got to the outlook of the falls--where we didn't take many pictures! Actually I hardly remember even looking which is quite sad. Another reason we will have to go back, I guess! There were a lot of people and the overlook wasn't as large as the ones on the Virginia side.
There were also these rock structures that I had a 3 year old climbing on which led to a lot more child watching than water fall watching!
When little legs got tired, Daddy carried Isaiah on his shoulders.
The unexpected part of the day was that the timing worked out that we could tour the C & O Canal on a mule pulled boat. It was an hour long tour. The boatmen were dressed in period clothing and a woman also dressed in period clothing talked the whole time about the canal and history of the time period. I am a lot more knowledgeable about the canal now than I was before!

Side story: I told (my) Grandad about this boat ride and he told me about how when he was a boy (younger than 8 or 9, I believe) his family lived beside a canal and boats pulled my mule came through on the canal transporting coal.

Coal was also the main thing that was transported on the C & O Canal. So here was are on the boat!
The most interesting part of the tour was going through an original lock. The only way that I can really explain a lock, despite the tour guide giving us a demonstration and experiencing it, is that a lock is a boat elevator. I was surprised at how narrow the lock was. There was 3 inches of clearance on each side of the boat.






The white building (in the next picture) was an original stop on the canal. It's called The Tavern House, I believe. The tour guide told us all about it. lol. Anna learned that it takes a horse and a donkey to make a mule from the tour guide.
I wanted to find the letterbox while we were there. This is me sitting on the wrong rock while the rest of the crew found the right one! I never fail to make Jeremy sigh and shake his head at my lack of skill in following letterbox clues.
They found it though and I was excited because letterboxes just make me excited.
It was a cool view from the letterbox. That's the boat we were on in the canal. Behind the boat you can see a path and then some more water. The far water is the Potomac River. I thought it was really interesting how close the canal followed the river.
The original agenda for Sunday was to go to the National Arboretum. I didn't think we would spend *that* much time at the arboretum which is why I suggested going back to the falls. I almost thought everyone would just want to go home and skip the arboretum, but that was not the case. It was 22 miles and 45 minutes from the falls to the arboretum--just the right distance for Isaiah (and Anna) to catch a nap. Aliza and Josiah were pretty excited to see the Washington Monument as we drove. Isaiah and Anna were sleeping when we arrived so I decided that we should drive around the park and see the different collections. At this point we weren't up for any long walks although Josiah saw a lot of trails that he wanted to walk. We were at the arboretum for a single exhibit.

A few months ago we read The Peace Tree from Hiroshima for our Family Dinner Book Club. At the end of the book we learned that the bonsai tree that Japan gave the United States after WWII is housed at the National Arboretum and since then it has been on my list of places to visit.

We arrived at the Visitor's Center at 4:20 only to find out that the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum closed at 4:00. It was a disappointing end to the day!
We walked around a little bit, but really didn't have any energy left to do any exploring.
That's Aliza's finger touching the butterfly's wings.
Panera for supper on the way home helped rejuvenate everyone's moods.

The good memories outweigh any bickering, complaining or other annoying kid and family stuff that might have occurred. lol. I'll be dreaming up our next adventure soon!






















Monday, October 23, 2017

Great Falls--Virginia

 I tried not to get my hopes up too high that this weekend adventure would actually happen, but the weather was perfect and the plan fell, very neatly, into place. Saturday morning to packed up for one night and headed to Great Falls, VA. The children had never seen a waterfall and were really excited to have family time. I had sortof forgotten, but quickly remembered, that tourist sites in big cities attract a lot of people!

There were 3 overlooks that we walked to. Super easy walks that were just right for that day.
 There were several kayaks that captured Isaiah's interest.
 Josiah was really glad to have his binoculars with him.

 There were a lot of rocks to climb on and get different views.







 Don't worry! I didn't just forget pictures of Anna. She isn't very fond of posed pictures these days.
 Aliza was absolutely in awe of creation and the Creator. She found a quiet spot to do an Instagram story.
 At the third overlook Jeremy had the big idea to take pictures through the binoculars--and it worked!



This was a super introduction for family adventuring for us. Getting to the hotel was high on the kids' agenda so we didn't stay too long. There is nothing more exciting than a family slumber party in a hotel! ha! My mom taught me well how to camp. ;) Just as exciting as the hotel was getting to eat supper at Bob Evans (kids choice) because you can get an ice cream sundae for dessert for $1.29! Despite everyone being tired they all handled the really long wait for our food well. Then it was a night time swim in the ice cold pool before bed. 

To be continued...