Continuing down I-40

Driving, driving driving.... our kiddos are such good travelers. Although I have to admit this trip we are pretty plugged in. Laptops, tablets, Nintendo, mp3 players etc... part of me is urgggg but we all listen to audio books all along the way. Each morning as we head down the interstate, Quayde and I start the morning off with his seminary lesson. He will be missing several weeks of class so we have the manual and are doing it as we go. He will get full credit when we get back.
 Arkansas. Most of the trips when we have been traveling I-40 we just travel on through this state without much of a thought. It had the nicest welcome center and bathroom stop! We ran around got our blood moving, laughed and played for a little while. It's so very important to run around.
 Thayne was deeply involved in some kind of video on my phone. Maliea introduced him to old Digimon movies and he loves them. When you are in the van for so many hours, a little break from the road view is important too.
On the map this park looked like it was going to be a wonderful spot for our lunch picnic. Not so much but we overlooked the graffiti and the loud traffic and ate. Thayne had a major meltdown here. He was crying and crying that if we were rich we would be eating out. We told him if we were rich we still would be having a picnic. Admittedly we were kind of laughing a lot behind his back because he was just being so over the top.
On the road headed to our stop in Oklahoma....


Nashville and the Parthenon

 The Parthenon was our next adventure. The bottom is a art museum that has a variety of paintings in it. There were no pictures allowed on the bottom floor. The one here in Nashville is a replica of the one that is in Greece, this one being completely intact of course.
 Originally it was part of a grand fair from a bygone area, with building replicas from all over the world. Today this is the only one left and it is at the heart of a beautiful park.

The beautiful goddess Athena towers over us as we are completely astounded by just how big she is. There is so much detail and the kids just were in amazement. Her shield has symbols and every little part of her body was designed with meaning. We took so many pictures but the lighting was low so she could glow.

There was so much to take in. All the work that was created to try to get things exactly like they would have been in Greece. It was really fascinating and gave the kids a great perspective on the culture of the time when it was used. Of course all of them but Thayne have already studied Greek mythology and so it was a lot of fun to hear them all discussing the gods and the myths.
It was a nice break from driving but we are finding it a little challenging to park with a Uhaul trailer attached to the back of the van. On to the open road again I think we are sleeping in Arkansas next.


Fairy Stone State Park

Virginia is beautiful this time of year. I had been looking up state parks all along our trip route and found Fairy Stone state park listed on the west side of the state. It was a little off the beaten path but....there are fairies involved and it sounded just so magical.

This place must be fabulous during the Summer months. As it was the leaves are covering the ground like a beautiful wool carpet and there is a chill in the air. We paid the small fee and brought out our picnic lunch while the kiddos went to explore the park a little.

There is a place where you can hunt for the fairy stones..so we went searching but to no avail.
Come to find out it is not even at the main park. We enjoyed our picnic then headed out to figure out where to hunt for the stones. That was the really reason we came, to find magical talismans.

To find fairy stones you actually have to leave the park and go back down the road a few miles to a gas station. The fairy stones are not anywhere near the park itself. We got there and were delighted to find a park ranger who gave us bags and explained what to look for.

"Fairy stones are staurolite, a combination of silica, iron and aluminum. Staurolite crystallizes at 60 or 90 degree angles, hence the stone's cross-like structure." The legend is that they are fairy's tears that crystalized into crosses upon hearing about Christ's death.

Hunting and gathering fairy stones took us several fun filled hours. We filled our little paper bags with a goodly amount and now have a great little collection. It was so delightful to have the peaceful forest surrounding us. It really did feel a bit magical there.


Westward Ho!

After the wedding comes the saying good bye. Chaiya and Dylan headed across the United States for their honeymoon and to their new home in AZ.
We are following her a week later and our first stop on the trek West is in Virginia.
Now truth be told. we left Friday night and made it a whole hour and half away from our home before we stopped for the night. We had been in the van for 6 hours but by the time we stopped and finished all of our errands it was late.
We have a Uhaul van full of Chaiya's things and wedding stuff for the reception in Az. The plan is to stop many places and explore. We will get to AZ a few days before the reception on the 2nd. Then say good bye and head back across the US to get home by the 11th of Nov.
Good thing we love to travel and explore!


Vintage wedding reception with the rain

Rain, rain go away! Really I was probably one of the only people totally bothered by the fact that the rain which wasn't supposed to be there in the first place was getting everything wet. Other than that it was the most perfect night. My sister Ginny and my dearest friend Andrea are my heroes. I was worried about food, the guest's comfort and the rain and they both just stepped in and took over.

A sweet bird cage for the cards and letters

A typewriter for character and to let the guests know where to sign.

Instead of a guest book, Chaiya choose an old fashioned globe that they can display in their home. 

No traditional wedding cake for this couple! We had pie , lots and lots of pie. Under the birds was a razzleberry one for them to cut.

Our centerpieces were filled with feathers and flowers tucked into a wood crate. Glass bottles with feathers, glass bottles with pearls, vintage style keys and candles wrapped in lace graced the tables. We had made the runners from painter's drop cloth and added crocheted ivory lace to the sides.

When I get the photos back from our photographer, I will post more of the magical night. It was so nice to plan and help create a perfect night for my sweet girl and her beloved. It is the beginning of a very promising happily ever after!

Vintage Wedding prep

Sometimes your daughter surprises you. Chaiya had always, always wanted peacock feathers, navy blue, jade green and the glam of a Gatsby style wedding. Then she and Dylan went and had engagement photos taken....on two separate days.

Then She knew what she wanted...a vintage wedding with lace, feathers and lots of old fashioned charm. We ordered yards and yards of trim, created the most amazing centerpieces and clothing accompaniments. Many hours of laughter and shopping and love filled the weeks before her wedding. It was a time I will cherish forever. Her wedding prep was a lot of fun. Honestly the hardest, least fun things were that dreaded guest list and figuring out the food.   

After going back and forth a great deal on venues, we just finally made the choice of our beautiful backyard. Even though it ended up raining for a large part of the reception...everyone was a good sport about it. We transformed the backyard into magic. There was badminton, croquet, and other yard games. So much about her reception was love, family and community.


Blessed day

One of the most cherished moments being a momma is when you can step into eternity for a brief moment with your child. Chaiya and I were able to spend a tender time in the Washington DC temple today as she received her endowments and made special promises with her Heavenly Father. We were blessed to be surrounded with kind, gentle women today who guided us and made this moment in time so precious.


Annual Corn maze time

 For the last three years we have headed to Bowles Farm with our homeschooling group to participate in the annual corn maze. Bowles really does an amazing job creating their mazes and it takes quite awhile to get through...even with the map.

Usually we first take the 'train' ride around the outside of the maze and listen to the farmer tell us about what they grow such as soybeans and corn.

The maze has three parts, one is for little tiny kiddos and then there is an easier side and a much longer one. They have you take a flag just in case you get lost and then they can guide you through the maze by the speaker system. We are quite triumphant this year, only got turned around one time. Maliea is always the victor in getting through by herself.

The tender voices of sheep and oinking of pigs always brings a smile. Coarse hay bales await jumping in and huge piles of corn to dig and scoop are some of the other delights of the afternoon.

The thing that creates the quickest smiles though is the giant tube slides. The littles could slide all day long!

We can not forget one of the best parts....picking our very own pumpkin to take home. This year the kiddos surprised me by choosing smaller ones, maybe because they have to carry them to the van themselves.

 It was an afternoon of delightful fun and one of our last with our sweet Chaiya, as she is moving into full adulthood and getting married in a few weeks and leaving for Arizona. Autumn time is always one of shifting as the days get a little shorter and the leaves change into their brilliant colors. This year brings so much more as we shift as a family. Our littles are not really little anymore. The mailbox is starting to fill with catalogs that have the most adorable things...things that we are becoming less interested in as school studies are increasing and free play with dolls and blocks are not quite as intriguing. There is still a few hours in the week where all is quiet and when I look in I find them on the floor building or dressing their dolls. I know though that time goes on. They will not be littles too much longer.