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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

What's Up Wednesday: Hello, October!

I can not believe today is the last day of September!  Often times in mothering, I've felt like the days are long yet the years are so fast!  But lately the days have been so fast, too!  In years past, our school days and weeks just seemed to drag on forever.  But not anymore!  I can honestly say our days have been so, so good, and they're just flying right by.


WHAT WE'RE EATING THIS WEEK
Well, it's nothing spectacular, I can tell you.  When Seth is out of town, I cook my children's favorite meals.  That's not exactly my favorite kind of cooking.  With the pickiest eater ever in the whole wide world, there are very few meals that fall into this category that all three of them will eat.  But I also get tired of preparing, essentially, two separate meals so the picky eater will eat.  I know what you're thinking.  I used to think that way, too.  And then I had Mason.  And that all changed.  And I'll just leave that right there.  Because I'm okay with it.

Anyway, I have cooked for my children this week.  Monday night we had dogs in a blanket (hotdogs wrapped in crescent rolls).  We don't get home until 7:00 on Mondays so it has to be something that's either already in the crockpot or that's really quick.  Dogs in a blanket are really quick.

Yesterday I cooked some chicken in my crockpot.  We had chicken tacos for supper last night.  Tacos are one of my kids' favorite meals, and they will all three eat tacos.  I like tacos.  But I'm a chips and salsa kind of girl.  And enchiladas.  So even though I get tired of tacos, they really are very versatile.  Last night the kids had their regulars, and I switched mine up a bit.  Usually I don't even eat meat on my tacos.  But I did, and I added shredded cabbage (I put cabbage on my fish tacos, too), diced green onions and chopped radishes (I'm telling you, I think I saw tacos or taco soup or taco SOMETHING somewhere one time that had radishes as a garnish) and then topped them with some verde crema (that's just real fancy for verde salsa mixed with sour cream).  And they were good!


Tonight I used the leftover chicken to make chicken tortilla soup.  No one ate this but me.  I've been craving soup lately.  So that's why I made soup with the chicken instead of the usual quesadillas or enchiladas.  Hannah Kate loves soup, too, and has been begging me to make baked potato soup.  I'm going to do that this weekend.  But none of my other people eat soup.  Seth says it's too much of the same thing.  My personal feeling is that gumbo would fall in that category, too, but he insists gumbo is "different."  Whatever.  The kids had homemade pizzas while I ate my soup.

I'm not sure yet what we're having tomorrow night.  It will either be meatballs and mashed potatoes or ham and provolone sliders.  But I'm leaning towards meatballs and mashed potatoes.  Again, everyone will eat that.

One of my goals for this football season is to make a new dip each game day.  The first weekend we had Carolina chicken burgers with ancho slaw (one of my favorite burger recipes), homemade sweet potato chips with blue cheese sauce and jalapeƱo popper dip.  That dip was one of the best I've ever tasted!  The second weekend we had cashew coconut crusted chicken fingers with mango honey dip and avocado egg rolls.  I enjoyed the chicken fingers.  They were different.  Seth didn't care for them so much because he doesn't like "sweet."  Last weekend we had a big thing at church, and I wasn't here to cook.  And I'm not sure what I'm going to do this weekend.  I'm a bit distracted regarding game day.  You'll understand why in a minute.

WHAT I'M REMINISCING ABOUT
Seth is in Wyoming this week.  And I am so jealous.  I just loved our trip to Glacier National Park, the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone.  And I'm just dying to go back!  Last Friday we went on a field trip with our homeschool group.  I met a mom who moved here last year from Wyoming and was born and raised just outside of Glacier.  I really enjoyed talking to her.  So I've been thinking a lot about our trip and really wishing we could go back!


WHAT I'M LOVING
I absolutely LOVE Mason's little school!  I am so thankful everyday that the Lord provided a way and led us there.  It really is the perfect fit for Mason, and he is doing so well!  He goes to school on Monday and Wednesday mornings.  He has three teachers.  There are seven kids in his class.  And he LOVES it!  Even without a 504 and "accommodations," he is maintaining all A's and B's.  And he's doing this on his own!  I am amazed at how far he has come during the past three years.  He's doing things now that I really didn't even know he would ever be able to do without a lot of help.  He's doing things now that I was concerned he might not be able to do.  There is a huge emphasis on writing well in his curriculum, and I anticipated struggles with that.  He still has some work to do, but he is, indeed, writing well.

I can't wait until Hannah Kate can be enrolled next year.  I think she's really going to love it, too.  I'm really enjoying what I'm doing with her, but I question myself all the time.  I worry that I'm not doing enough or that she's bored or that it's not challenging enough for her.  She's already through the end of her 2nd grade spelling curriculum so I'm going to go ahead and begin 3rd grade spelling with her.  And it looks like we might be done with 2nd grade math at Christmas so she might be starting 3rd grade math in January.  I worry that I picked the wrong curriculum or that I'm somehow missing something.  I think I'll feel much more confident once she's enrolled at Sequitur also.

WHAT WE'VE BEEN UP TO
We had a 75th anniversary celebration at our church last weekend so the majority of my September (besides homeschooling) was spent planning and coordinating that service.  It was a lot of work, which I knew it would be, but it really ended up being even more than I thought it would be.  But it really was a neat service to be a part of, and I enjoyed the planning and the research and the stories I heard from our oldest members, one of whom was a charter member 75 years ago.  I landed here in 1999 as a summer missionary. But I had no idea at the time that this would be the church I'd raise my children in, that this would be the church my husband was raised in.  So for those reasons, it meant a lot to me.

I also cleaned out the kids' closets.  I'm pretending that one day we will actually be able to wear long sleeves and long pants.  Mason has grown A LOT this summer.  I mean, I knew he had.  But I didn't realize just how much until I made him try on some clothes to see what fit and what didn't.  And NOTHING did.  He has no blue jeans from last year that fit, no church pants that fit, no church shirts that fit and no long sleeve shirts that fit.  Zip, zilch, nada, NONE.  He has three hoodies that fit, and THAT'S IT.  The same goes for Hannah Kate.  I couldn't believe it!  I wasn't surprised about Mason, but I was thinking we'd have a few things from last year that Hannah Kate could wear.  So now their closets and drawers are virtually empty, and I need to go shopping quickly.  I'm glad to have everything sorted and cleaned out, but it was a job.  I haven't gotten to Ellie yet.  I need to go in the attic and pull down the next tub of Hannah Kate's hand-me-downs to see what I have.  And, obviously, I need to go shopping!  Everyone needs new tennis shoes and church shoes, too.

WHAT I'M DREADING
Halloween.  It's my least favorite day of the year.  I'm glad it's on a Saturday this year.  And that I can watch football.

WHAT I'M WORKING ON
Oh, this just makes me laugh.  I bought supplies to make two new fall wreaths for the front doors.  I don't know why.  Because the supplies I bought TWO YEARS AGO for a new fall wreath are still in the same bag I bought them in because I've done nothing with them!  So I really want to be working on those three wreaths!  Maybe next week . . .

I'm making gift lists and hoping to have most of my Christmas gifts purchased by the end of October.  Okay.  Maybe November.

WHAT I'M EXCITED ABOUT
October, November and December . . . my absolute most favorite time of the year!

We also have a new candy store at the mall!  It's one of those vintage ones that I always wished we had here.  And now we do!  But I haven't been in there yet!  The only time since they've opened that I've been to the mall, I had the kids with me.  And I just couldn't bring myself to take them in there!  I knew they would want everything, and I would tell them "no," and they would be disappointed, and nobody would be happy.  I know.  That's terrible.  But I just can't tell you how excited I am . . . this summer I visited the ones at the mall in Dallas and in Denver.  And I drooled over everything and lamented to Seth how we don't have any good candy stores in our mall.  And now we do!  And, yes, I will take the children.  But only after I go first!  Tomorrow I get to go grocery shopping BY MYSELF for the first time in I don't even know how long!  But I'm taking a little detour first . . . 


WHAT I'M WATCHING / READING
I didn't get to read as much this month as I would've liked.  I had every intention of reading All the Light We Cannot See, but it basically just sat on my nightstand.  Instead I grabbed Bread & Wine one day to take to dance.  I knew it would be an easier read in the chaos that is dance days.  And I was right.  I read the first chapter, and I was hooked!  I love reading memoirs, and this is, I think, my favorite one I've ever read!  It's also got some really good recipes in it.  This book, well, I really did love it!  So since that's the only book I read this month, I guess that's okay.  I did begin reading All the Light We Cannot See last night.

Mason and I are currently reading The Eagle of the Ninth for school.  It's off to a slow start for me, but I think it's going to be an interesting read.

Oh, wait.  I'm just remembering that I also finished The Kitchen House this month, too!  It was a much heavier read, but I did enjoy it, and I'm glad I read it.  I don't think it's for everyone though.

WHAT I'M LISTENING TO
Nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  And it's so nice!  My days are filled with endless chatter and laughter and questions and all kinds of crazy.  And I wouldn't change it for the world!  But right now I'm just enjoying the quiet.

WHAT I'M WEARING
Well.  What I wish I was wearing is leggings, boots and a scarf.  But it was 90 degrees today.  Ugh.  It's not 90 degrees in Wyoming though . . .

WHAT I'M DOING THIS WEEKEND
There's a little game this Saturday.  And I. CAN'T. WAIT.  Seth asked me on Monday night if I was ready.  And I told him I wasn't yet.  I mean, I can hardly think about Saturday except for THIS. GAME.  That's why I haven't planned my menu yet.  Really, that's all I can say about this weekend.  I don't think it really matters what's on the menu.  I do have a wedding rehearsal on Friday night.  But THIS. GAME.

WHAT I'M LOOKING FORWARD TO NEXT MONTH

October!  Maybe fall-ish weather is coming soon . . . and I'm so hopeful I'll be able to pull out my boots and leggings and tunics and scarves and sweaters.  Okay.  So maybe sweaters in October is pushing it a bit.  But still.  One can dream!  I also haven't had my first pumpkin spice latte of the season either.  It's time . . .

WHAT ELSE IS NEW
Nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  I don't think . . .


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Seasons

To everything there is a season.

As I get older (although let it be known right now that I am still 26 years old in my head!), I find that I think of my life as being marked by seasons . . . seasons come and then they go and give way to a new season, a different season.  Some of those seasons are bright and fuzzy and warm.  Those are the ones I wish would stick around a little longer.  It's kinda like fall.  I'm so glad it comes around once a year, and I'd love it if it came around more often or stayed a little longer.  Some of those seasons are dreary and rainy and cold.  Those are the ones I don't enjoy so much, but I still see their beauty and value and look forward to the warmer days that are inevitably ahead. 

I've been a mom for ten years.  That's long enough to talk like I know what I'm doing, but not long enough certainly to be an expert.  But one thing I can say is that there are seasons to mothering.  And just as quickly as they come, they seem to go and unfold into a new season.  Because there is a seven year difference between Mason and Ellie, I often feel like I'm straggling between two different seasons.  But what is so awesome about that is that I have one last opportunity to relish the seasons that passed that will never come again . . . you know, like rocking a newborn, potty training, sleepless nights.  Of course, those particular seasons have now passed with Ellie.  She's a rather high maintenance three year old who doesn't stop talking and asking questions from the time she wakes up until the time she goes to sleep.  Mason and Hannah Kate, on the other hand, can make their own beds and keep their rooms clean, they can grab their own snacks and drinks, they can take their own baths.  It seems they are becoming more and more independent on a daily basis.  While part of me is excited about this season of mothering my older children, I'm glad I still have my younger child who is a bit more dependent on me.

I realize though, that the day is coming quickly when Ellie will be an older child.  She'll no longer need me to fix her plate or give her a bath or help her wash her hands.  She won't whine all the time about pretty much everything and require constant dispute resolution tactics.  She'll be too heavy for me to carry up the stairs and to her bed.  It will be a new season.

This current season is so brand new.  It's like nothing I've ever experienced before.  One thing I've learned during the past 20 years is that I don't need to get too comfortable in one particular season or another.  Because change is coming.  I love our new season.  I really do.  I feel like we've found our permanent fall, the season that I'm so glad we're in and the one I want to last forever.  It won't though.  But while it's here, I'm going to enjoy the heck out of it.  Here's how I enjoyed it yesterday.

Ellie is still honing her cutting skills.  But she's decided she's not interested in tracing a line or a circle or a triangle.  She would just rather cut and glue.  She's also not yet a fan of coloring in between the lines.  She wants so desperately to write her name.  All of the capital letters of her name are so closely related and require only straight lines so I'm sure she'll be writing her name in no time. 

This girl right here told me last week that her favorite subject is grammar.  Yes.  GRAMMAR.  That made me absolutely giddy!  My college literature professor tried to convince me to double major in English or, at the very least, to minor in English.  I thought she was crazy.  But now . . . I so wish I'd have listened to her!  

And guess who is writing his own papers BY HIMSELF with only minimal edits from mom?  This boy!  He actually gets pretty excited about school now.  He really loves math this year because it's all about multiplication and division thus far.  He's actually being taught the groundwork for my favorite math, Algebra, but I'm not telling him that right now.  He is excelling in Bible and history.
We complete our actual work during the mornings and then do projects or other activities during the afternoons.  Yesterday the girls made chocolate muffins with only a chocolate cake mix and a can of pumpkin.  My best eater didn't like them!  I couldn't believe it.  I mean, this is the same girl who eats Brussels sprouts!  My worst eater devoured them, even though he knew very well there was a can of pumpkin in them!  I'm just not a fan of baking because it takes too long and requires too much careful measurement, which I don't have time for during this current season in my life.  But I like this kind of baking because two ingredients!  And cupcake liners.  Having said that, I'm still undecided as to how I really feel about these muffins.
We did a science activity to understand how small the sun is in relation to other stars in the sky.  I don't have any pictures of that.  Afterwards we began planting the winter garden.  The kids planted broccoli, cauliflower, butter lettuce, Brussels sprouts, scallions and cabbage.  (Yes, Mason is sweating, and it is mid-September.  It is HOT.  Oh, fall, where art thou?)  
It was a very full, very good day of homeschooling and living and learning and loving.

Most of you know that I've been involved in Bible Study Fellowship, a weekly, in-depth Bible study, for the past five years.  All of my Wednesdays during those years have been spent at BSF (with the exception of the summer time).  And I served in leadership as a children's leader the past two years.  So all of my Tuesdays during those years have been spent at BSF, too.  When the Lord called me to homeschool, He called me out of BSF leadership.  He so graciously provided a way for me to still attend Bible study on Wednesdays, but I stepped out of leadership in May.  It was hard and sad.  I mean, I thought my season of serving as a children's leader was going to last forever!  I decided that I would volunteer to serve in the children's program every week this year.  I decided.

But God, in His sovereignty, had a different plan.  Imagine that.  A couple of weeks ago I received a phone call from our precious admin leader.  She asked me to serve as a host.  I graciously agreed and was just so thankful to the Lord for blessing me with a place of service in BSF this year, even if not as a children's leader.  Obviously He knows I needed adult interaction.  Today was our first day back.  And I'll be honest.  I had to check my emotions at the door because it was all I could do to hold back the tears.  There are four moms in my small group whose children I have taught the last couple of years.  One of them said her son looked for me first this morning and asked where I was when I wasn't standing at the door to what was my classroom last year.  Another one of the children I taught saw me after class in the hallway and told his grandmother that I was the nicest teacher ever.  So many of the women stopped and asked me "what happened" and why I wasn't a children's leader this year.  I was able to hug the sweet sisters in Christ with whom I sat in leaders' circle with, the ones I dearly missed yesterday as I knew they gathered together for the first leaders' meeting.

I was so excited about a new year of Bible study (we're studying Revelation this year!) at BSF this year that I jumped out of bed this morning at 4:30.  I washed my hair and even hot rolled it.  I cooked eggs and sausage for the kids for breakfast.  All of this was done by 5:45.  Why is that a big deal?  Because I am NOT a morning person.  I have tried and tried.  But I just can't do it.  Let me stay up late.  That's when I'm on top of my game.  But then let me sleep late.  Because I really can't and don't function before about 9:00AM, and that's pushing it.  Even Seth said he couldn't believe it when he rolled over and saw that the clock said 4:30, and I was out of bed.  Well, that's because it was not just any old Wednesday, but it was BSF Wednesday, and I got to go and be with my people today!  The sadness of not being a children's leader today lingered only a minute or two.  It's a new season.  And I'm going to love it.

Ellie is loving it, too.  The sure fire way I know she enjoys her class is that she falls asleep on the way home.  And today was no different. 

Before Ellie and I went to pick up the big kids, we ate a quick lunch with my dear friend who is moving back home to South Carolina.  I feel like the story of my life over the past 15 years has been that of finally making those friends who are real and true kindred spirits, only to have them move after a couple of years or so.  That has happened over and over and over, and today was no exception.  Seasons.  But today I just couldn't tell "Miss Leese" (as Ellie calls her) bye.  Instead I told her I'd see her when I come visit Charleston.

When I got home this afternoon, I began combing books and documents and old church records to compile an organized, written history of my church for our upcoming 75th anniversary celebration.  I've been a member of my church for only six years now, but my history with my church dates back to 1999.  And it's the church my husband was born and raised in, as was his dad.  During the past 75 years, there have been different pastors, different buildings, different programs.  Seasons.

So I find that to be the common theme weaving a chapter in my life right now.  Seasons. My current one is such a good one.  I certainly hope it sticks around for awhile.  Something tells me it just might.  But if it doesn't, something also tells me that I'm going to enjoy the next season just as much as I do this one.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

15 years and 2,858 miles: Yellowstone

After spending the morning in the Grand Tetons, we drove into Yellowstone.  The original plan was to drive the entire figure eight in Yellowstone.  I had mapped out seven spots I wanted to stop and see.  They were going to be quick stops because we only had one day in Yellowstone.  But because we spent so much time in the Grand Tetons, we ended up with only the afternoon and evening in Yellowstone.  That's definitely not enough time, but we made the best of what we had, and I certainly have no regrets about what we did or didn't get to see.
Our first stop was, of course, Old Faithful.  The first thing we noticed about Yellowstone was that it was VERY crowded and VERY touristy.  I mean, it was beautiful.  But it was definitely more commercialized than Glacier and the Grand Tetons.
It took us about 15 minutes to even find a parking spot at Old Faithful.  It had also begun raining.  The geyser was expected to erupt within the next 45 minutes, and we decided to wait.  We both felt like there was no way we were going through all of that and not see it.  So we waited.  And, sure enough, it was faithful.

We hadn't even got started very good along the figure eight, but we decided after we left Old Faithful that we just didn't have the time to drive it and see everything we wanted to see.  We stayed on the south loop.  There was a lot of traffic, and it was very slow going.  We finally made it to the West Thumb Geyser Basin, which was one of the spots on my list of seven.  We didn't take the hike to Yellowstone Lake because I REALLY wanted to see the Grand Prismatic Spring.  But the basin was most definitely the most interesting place I've ever been.


Of all the places in Yellowstone, I was most excited to see the Grand Prismatic Spring.  I'd seen the most gorgeous picture online of this deepest royal blue in the center spring that gave way to the brightest hues of turquoise and jade and yellow and orange on the outsides.  But it definitely did not look like that when we were there.  I'm pretty sure Photoshop sets people up for disappointment sometimes.  I wasn't necessarily disappointed, but it just wasn't what I expected based on what I had seen.  Seth also reminded me that weather conditions had to be absolutely perfect to move the escaping steam away so you could really see it.  And, by this time, a storm was moving in, and the weather conditions were deteriorating.   

And then it was pouring down rain.  And it was cold!  It was also about this time that a tall, skinny pine tree fell over the road right in front of us.  There was still a lot of traffic, cars behind us, cars coming toward it.  And it was only a two-lane road.  We couldn't go anywhere.  Seth and a guy in another vehicle both got out and were able to move the tree off the road.  In the process, Seth broke his finger.  Or so we think.  He didn't go to the doctor until two weeks ago.  And he went to an urgent care clinic who specializes in the common cold.  And I still can't see the "break" on the x-ray.  But whatever.  So he wore a splint for about 10 days, but it didn't seem to get better, only worse.  I finally gave him a talking to a couple of days ago about going to an orthopedic, but it has miraculously "gotten better."

Our next stop was the "Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone."  I took these pictures in the pouring down rain so that's why they are so foggy looking.  I've seen waterfalls before, but this is the most majestic waterfall I've ever seen!  I wanted to stay here, I wanted to hike Uncle Tom's Trail.  But I just couldn't do it in the freezing rain.  Anyway, it was something.   



We started making our way south again to exit the park.  It was late afternoon by this time, and we were both tired.  We were looking forward to going back to the hotel and also getting something to eat.  But we ended up sitting in the same spot on the highway for an hour.  We had no idea what was going on.  We thought there had been an accident or something.  But there wasn't.  A herd of bison were apparently crossing the road and just didn't want to move out of the way.  Yes.  Seriously.

Even though we didn't drive the north loop and even though I didn't get to see everything I wanted to in Yellowstone, I think we did as much as we possibly could in the time we were given.

Seth is still looking for bears, by the way.  We never saw any, but we did come upon this elk.  Seth made me take a picture because this was the biggest one we saw.
As we left Yellowstone and drove back through the Grand Tetons, it stopped raining.  We got to enjoy one of the most beautiful sunsets I've ever seen.  Everything was . . . golden.  



We crashed that night and then woke up the next morning and drove eight hours back to Denver.  The following day we flew back to New Orleans.  Never have I been so ready and so excited to hug and touch my babies as I was that day!

I want to go back.  I want to go back to Glacier.  I want to go back to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone.  I LOVED everything about our trip, and I wouldn't change a thing!  But next time I want to stay put in the same place a little longer.  I want to spend a couple of days in Yellowstone and make the entire loop.  I want to hike a little more.  I want to just sit a little more.  We covered a lot of miles in not a lot of time.  I think what we did would really be best if you had at least two weeks.  But, again, I have no regrets.

When we were at Glacier, we met a family from the United Kingdom, a dad, mom, two sons and grandfather.  I asked them how in the world they ended up in Glacier National Park in Montana.  The dad responded, "This is my dream trip!  This is the trip of a lifetime!  We flew into Houston and rented an RV.  We drove to New Orleans and then up to Memphis to see Graceland.  We drove up to Route 66 and traveled it a ways.  We saw Mount Rushmore.  We went to Yellowstone and now we're here.  We're headed to Seattle next, and then we're going to fly back home."

I thought about that a lot.  The trip of a lifetime.  I felt so honored that this family felt that way about MY country, about the place where I live (although they said New Orleans was their least favorite!).  And I just felt such an overwhelming thankfulness that I had the opportunity for what was, to me, the trip of a lifetime.  That's what it was.  And it was a trip with the man of my dreams, the one I am spending this lifetime with.  I am blessed indeed.

The children have since been begging us to take them to see what we saw.  I think they mainly want to fly on an airplane.  I am not about to take a 2,858 mile road trip with them!  But I'd love to take them to Yellowstone.  And I'd love to take them to Colorado and explore there a bit.  I think we'd have great fun there.  There were several places we learned about but didn't have time to visit.  So for now, Seth told them that we'd try to go to Gatlinburg next year.  As for me, I'm trying to figure out how we can see more of this great countryside.  I'm thinking there will be more road trips in our future.  I had the Grand Canyon in my sights, but I just don't know about that drive.  But today I started working on another road trip.  I mean, if we're going to Gatlinburg, maybe we could go ahead and go on into Kentucky and up towards Ohio.  I'd really love to take the kids to the Creation Museum.  But, of course, I haven't told Seth about this yet.

Oh, and I'm also planning our 20th wedding anniversary trip.  It's my dream trip.  And it's a big one.  I have only five years to talk Seth into it though.  I told our UK friends that my dream trip was to their country.  The dad said, "Good luck with that.  Start saving now because it's really expensive!"  A girl can dream though!


Wednesday, September 09, 2015

15 years and 2,858 miles: The Grand Tetons

As we left Glacier National Park and drove south through Montana, we saw lots of this . . .
. . . farms and farmland tucked at the base of rolling mountains.  The pastures were that green and dotted with hay bales all over the place.  The irrigation systems were unlike any I've ever seen before.  Oh,how I would love to live with this view everyday!

As we traveled towards the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone, we took several detours.  Our first detour was through the National Bison Range.  While I was looking for mountains and waterfalls, Seth was looking for wildlife.  Of course, that's all the time no matter where we are.  I can't tell you how many times we're just quietly driving down the road and all of the sudden I'm brought back to life by screams of, "DEER!" and a finger pointing in front of my face out the window.  I honestly don't have the eye site to see what he's talking about most of the time (Besides, if you've seen one, you've seen them all, right?  That's my philosophy.), but it can be as small as the head of a pin, and Seth will see it.

When I first told my parents about our trip, my mama's first comment was, "Well.  Watch out for bears."  I'd never even thought about that, and I really didn't think about it a whole lot at all while we were at Glacier.  Seth mentioned often that he was looking for a bear, and I finally had to tell him to go to the zoo.  But he said that you EXPECT to see bears at a zoo, whereas it's different out in the wild.  Well, obviously he was EXPECTING to see a bear at Glacier or Yellowstone so I really didn't see the difference.  Anyway.  (And just in case you're wondering, a bear is about the only wild life we didn't see!)    

We enjoyed our drive through the Bison Range.  And we saw lots of bison.  We also learned the difference between a bison and a buffalo.  And now that I know, it seems to me that Home on the Range got it all wrong.  You can google that.

This guy was so close to the road that I could've touched him if I'd have put my arm out the window.

Seth made me take this next picture.  He spotted a herd of elk (I think.  Or maybe those were just regular deer.) grazing on this hillside.  If you look real hard, you can see them at the base of the hill.  But it's okay if you can't see them.  I never would've seen them had it not been for the zoom on my camera!

And then I had to take a picture of this deer we saw feeding by the creek.

We saw lots of antelope.  Lots and lots of antelope!

Montana is most definitely one of my most favorite states now.

We cut through the south corner on Idaho as we left Montana.  I didn't take any pictures, but now I wish I would have.  It was nothing but fields . . . wheat and potatoes and alfalfa . . . as far as the eye could see.  The wheat was the most beautiful golden color I've ever seen.  And for miles and miles that's all you would see.  My dad farmed in my early years, and both of my grandfathers farmed so I appreciate a good looking field.  And I'd never seen anything like these before.  Idaho made me want to live on a farm and drive a tractor!

After eight or so hours, we arrived in Teton Village at our resort.  We spent two nights there, and it was, by far, the most incredible place I've ever stayed at (thanks to one of those lightning deals on Expedia!).  Of course, we spent maybe a total of 16 hours in our room the whole time we were there.  But it was something.

That night Seth took me to Jackson Hole.  There was a lot of traffic, and it was very crowded.  Seth said it had never been like that during any of the times that he'd been there.  I'm not sure why it was that way.  Our trip coincided with Sturgis so maybe that had something to do with it.  We walked around town, went in several of the shops and ate supper.  I didn't take not the first picture of any of that.

The next day was our last full day before heading back to Denver, and we were going to spend it in Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks.  As we drove to the Grand Tetons, this is the view that greeted us.  Again, it was even more amazing . . . stunning . . . absolutely breathtaking . . . than this picture conveys.

The original plan was to stop for a minute at the Grand Tetons and then spend most of the day in Yellowstone.  But once we got to the Tetons, I was hooked.  We couldn't leave yet.  We took a boat ride across Jenny Lake and decided to hike to Hidden Falls.  I mean, I saw this IN. PERSON.


I just couldn't get enough of that mountain peak covered in snow.  The farther we hiked, the more spectacular it got.





We enjoyed our hike to Hidden Falls so much that we decided to hike to Inspiration Point.  The weather was about 25 degrees cooler here than it was in Glacier so that was a treat!  I felt so invigorated!  I have to admit that this was the only time during the whole trip that the thought of a bear crossed my mind.  At one point, we missed a turn onto the Inspiration Point trail and went deeper into the forest than we were supposed to.  We were still following a trail, but it was a rather secluded trail, and we eventually noticed that we were the only ones on it!  

Once we made it to Inspiration Point, we could stand and look out over Jenny Lake.  



We hiked about 11 miles and then crossed back over Jenny Lake on the boat.  Seth and I both agreed that this was our most favorite hike and probably our most favorite thing we did on the entire trip.  Grand Teton National Park is breath-taking.  It is unlike anything I've ever seen before!  And we barely scratched the surface of it!  It was already lunchtime by this point so we decided to go straight into Yellowstone.  This was our view as we left the Tetons.

Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD;
let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before Him with thanksgiving and extol Him with music and song.
For the LORD is the great God,
the great King above all gods.
In His hand are the depths of the earth,
and the mountain peaks belong to Him.
The sea is His, for He made it, and His hands formed the dry land.
Come, let us bow down in worship,
let us kneel before the LORD our Maker;
for He is our God and we are the people of His pasture, the flock under His care.
~Psalm 95:1-7