More in Dallas, and visiting home – Days 154 -194

We are past the need for apologies, right? I mean, it’s become quite clear to anyone who is actually following the blog that I am constantly falling behind. Being in Dallas for such a long time has gotten me lazy with that part of my job, because we are in a routine, and with routine comes dullness. We have had some great days mixed in with our daily grind in the last month, but there is not a lot of exciting detail to report. I will highlight those “special” days below, but all in all, there was a lot of schooling for the kids and working for the parents. We are set to move on in about a week, though (details in the blog posting below), so we will have more to report about our daily experiences very soon. Thanks for hanging in there!  (FYI – Generally, any pictures in the post that do not include one of the kids were taken by Justice, as she has a more steady hand than her momma.)

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Afternoon of painting together – sometimes they do get along!

Day 156 – Thurs, Oct 3 – The kids and I were headed to the zoo. First we hit a Corian repair shop to pick up our sink cover, which had been mortally wounded in a dish-washing accident. Per my increasingly impressive navigation skills, the repair center was within a few miles of the zoo, so we could just swing by on the way. After picking it up, however, something dawned on me. The Dallas Zoo was within a few miles away, but I seemed to recall that it was the Fort Worth Zoo for which I had already purchased tickets to the homeschool event. Even though this area is called the DFW (Dallas-Forth Worth), the FW part of this lovely reference is really not very close. Needless to say, it took another hour to get to the right zoo, and the kids were impressed yet again with my skills (ask them about my “short cuts” sometime). It was fairly hot and humid, but we did enjoy our time visiting all of the animals. We spent a good 30 minutes with the monkeys, and even got to watch one force himself to throw up several times. (I had never seen this kind of behavior before, but I recently listened to an interview with a Paleo author- yes, I am a nerd – and he mentioned that many zoos were witnessing this sort of behavior with apes until they started feeding them a diet similar to what they ate in the wild. I found this fascinating, especially since just having seen it for myself.) The kids enjoyed watching the boy and girl Rhinos “party” (I believe Justice’s actual words were, “Gross! Really?” And dear Nation wondered out loud, “Why is he wiggling like that?”) We also enjoyed the ostrich who walked around with his head hanging between his legs. It was a very educational day, and good fun was had by all.

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Day 162 – Wed, Oct 9 – My fearless sister, Jessi Combs, broke a women’s landspeed record today! The kids and I were hoping to be there in person, but getting to eastern Oregon from Dallas turned out to be surprisingly hassle-filled. Thankfully, my mom and her wonderful hubby were there (along with my little sis, and my dad made it too!!), and mom kept us up-to-speed during each attempt. We were all very excited about her success! Check out this link if you haven’t already heard or read about this:

http://landspeed.com/press/232-jessi-combs-sets-new-womens-land-speed-record

Day 165 – Sat, Oct 12 – While driving to boxing lessons this week (which should be on everyone’s bucket list, by the way! Thank you Groupon for allowing to me to try it out so cheaply!), I saw a sign for an Armenian Festival, so we headed to check it out. It was hot and humid (as always), but we had a great time watching several traditional dance performances and watching women make Baklava rolls, as well as looking through historic artifacts and learning a bit about the culture. We were all a bit surprised when the announcer said everything in both English and Armenian. It seemed as though this would be unnecessary in the middle of Texas, but it’s not the first time we’ve found small communities within this city that have simply transplanted themselves here while attempting to remain in their own country, so to speak. Fascinating! After attending this fest, we headed to downtown Carrollton just a few miles away for Santa Fe Days, a Native American Festival. This proved to be very similar to such gatherings at home, with the traditional drum dancing and feathered wardrobe. Nation made a bird feeder there, after which we called it a day and headed home to cool off.

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Day 166 – Jacin’s 3rd day off! After church, we took the kids to the Texas State Fair, the biggest fair in the world! Even knowing this, I don’t think any of us were prepared by the enormity of it all. After quite a drive, it took us another 20 minutes to figure out parking. Once in, we walked through the entire fair, looking at vendor booths and car shows (displaying upcoming models), checking out the rides, and enjoying the overcast day. We rode the tram through the park to see it from above, and Nation and I went on a kiddie roller coaster (which proved to be too much for both of us), and Jacin and Justice hit a bigger one. We didn’t partake in much fair food, but they had everything you could imagine fried: fried Twinkies, fried Oreos, fried Nutella, fried Thanksgiving dinner, fried meatloaf, fried grilled cheese sandwich, fried spaghetti and meatballs, fried chicken and waffles, fried snickers, fried Resse’s Peanut Butter Cups, fried butter, and fried beer, to name a few. I was grateful for the Saladmaster vendor booth that provided a lovely fresh chopped salad, which prevented me from starving. We also found some Nada Moo coconut milk ice cream for $3.50/pint (a steal!), which we all shared. Justice had a burger and fries, but otherwise we tried to hold off on eating dinner on-site. We wrapped up our day with a Mediterranean dinner at It’s All Greek To Me and called it a day.

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Day 169 – Wed, Oct 16 – I had one final weekend intensive in Fort Collins before graduating from Quantum Energetics Institute, and due to Jacin’s crazy schedule, the kids had to come along. So, we decided to make a trip out of it and visit home. My brother had planned a biking trip in Moab, UT, so it worked out that he could pick us up on his way back to Rapid City. I had a great time visiting with him on the 6-hour drive home. The kids were pretty quiet for most of the trip, as we didn’t arrive in Denver until 6:00 pm, but Justice perked up quite a bit when we were about 20 miles from home. She was exclaiming how she recognized everything and was so excited to see it all, even to the point of “oh glorious random bridge!” We didn’t pull in until roughly 1:30 am, to be greeted by our beloved borgy (beagle/corgy), Kira, and my anxious momma. Poor Kira was frightened by the kids running towards her in the dark pulling their large luggage, and she took off around the house. It took Justice quite a while to coax her out! But in the house, she would not stop licking us and whining for more lovin’. She’s such a good dog, and we were very thrilled that she had not forgotten us. We all stayed up until around 2:30, and finally forced ourselves to go to bed.

Day 170 – We had coordinated with Jacin’s aunt and uncle, Roxie and Dave, who were visiting from Mitchell, SD, to meet us for lunch with Jacin’s mom, who had no idea we were coming. We thought she may have figured it out with all the weird answers we had been trying not to give her in the weeks preceding our trip home, but we were happily surprised to find that she truly did not have a clue. It was so much fun to just walk in and see the look on her face! Dave had to run back to Mitchell, but we enjoyed a lunch in Kris’s apartment along with Roxie and my mom. We made plans for the kiddos to spend some time with them over the next couple of days, then headed out to pick up my car. Oh, my car! Yes, I knew I missed it, but I did not realize just how much it missed me! It was wagging its rack and everything. 🙂 There is simply something special about a standard 5-speed turbo that just can’t be beat. After attempting to park the Tundra for the last 6 months (without much luck), I was so looking forward to whipping in and out of crammed spaces with ease. It’s the simple things, really, that make me happy I guess.

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Surprise, Grandma Kris!                                                                      Nation’s choice project at Grandma Nina’s house.

Days 171-180 – The kids kept me busy taxiing them to visit friends, and I did get to spend a bit of time with my best friend Natalie and my good friend Matt. I unfortunately had a LOT of work to do while I was in Rapid City, though, so most of my time was spent sitting in front of a computer and delivering reports to clients. It was nice to see several of them in person, though, and I am ever grateful for their flexibility with my extended travel. I did find time to work on my mother’s kitchen while I was staying at her house, whether she wanted me to or not. She had removed all of her upper cabinet doors when she moved in back in 1997 with the intent to update them, but they had never been put back on. So there were shelves, especially those above the stove, that needed to be sorted through and cleaned. I also had a VERY BIG NEED to clear off her counters, taking as many appliances as possible and putting them into the newly cleared out cupboards, and finishing the entire project with a repainting and rehanging of the doors. I am not sure how many hours we spent on this project, nor how many tears I forced my mom to shed (poor thing), but we were successful! I was reminded at just how poorly I can plan the time it will take to complete projects, unless they are accounting related. I was hoping to help her with so much more, but my time quickly ran out. I headed to Fort Collins on Thursday for a weekend full of classes, and my mom came down with her family and my kids to celebrate graduation with me. After 20 months of studying, classes, interning, and practicing, I’m officially a Quantum Energetics Structured Therapy practitioner! I am not sure what God will have me do with this wonderful either while we are still traveling or when we plant ourselves back home, but I am trusting that he will use it for his glory.

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Kyrie, Justice, and Nation headed to Fort Collins                                             Graduation Celebration

After graduation, all three kids somehow got on the topic of the meaning of the word “ditto”, which led to a bet that if either Nation or Kyrie ordered a dipped ditto cone at Dairy Queen, Justice would pay them one dollar. Well, Nation pulled it off quite well, without much smiling, until the poor girl at the register said, “Uhhh, sorry?” Then we all cracked up, but the Dairy Queen employees didn’t seem to think we were funny. They basically gave the kids their ice cream then kicked us out so they could close up.

While we were in Rapid City, Jacin got to know a few of his co-workers better as well as some other adjusters in the RV park. He even went to a Steve Earl concert! I was thrilled that he was taking this time to enjoy himself a little, which he hadn’t done much of since we arrived.

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Day 181 – Monday, Oct 28 – Mom, Chuck, and Kyrie stayed with us in Fort Collins long enough to enjoy a lunch together at Garbanzo’s, and then they were gracious enough to drive my car home for me while the kids and I jumped into a rental car to dink around until our late flight out of Denver. It was so good to see everyone, but it went by much too quickly. I am not sure why I was expecting it to be different than other trips to visit family – probably because it’s really the first time I’ve visited home. It’s truly a strange concept for me. Hopefully the kids have filled their tanks with fun memories of their friends, enough to get them through to the end of this adventure.

Day 183 – Wed, Oct 30 – Jacin was notified today that Friday will be his last day on the job. We have some planning to do! This is about 2 weeks earlier than originally expected, although there had been rumors flying around that it would likely happen. The work load had lightened up substantially, and at least one group ahead of Jacin’s had been let go early as well. He is relieved, as the last few weeks of monotony have been hard on my can’t-still-still-even-when-on-vacation husband. Now we just need to figure out what to do during November…

Day 184 – Halloween! Well, Justice is officially too old for the festivities, or at least that’s what she’s been insisting for the last several days as we’ve been trying to figure out a costume for Nation. Nation wanted to be a vampire, with real teeth to glue on and the whole shebang, but it just seemed silly to invest too much in the costume, especially when we don’t have a bunch of room to hang onto something that is not in use. So, yesterday we hit the Goodwill store to go through the very picked through Halloween items. There were just parts and pieces of several different costumes, not one that was his size that was complete. So, I suggested that he go as everything, and he excitedly agreed. So my sweet son, who is generally very easy-going, dressed up in a witches hat, crazy glasses, a werewolf shirt (with fur at the neck and cuffs), a pink tutu, with a zombie’s scar on his leg. When it came time to go trick-or-treating, I wasn’t feeling well, so I just followed him through neighborhoods driving the truck as he walked around by himself. He was such a trooper, and I loved listening to people ask him what he was and enjoy his response of, “Confused!” He was such a hit that one house even gave him two extra large candy bars in addition to a handful of smaller candies. He had a good time. When we got home, he and Justice (who is too old to beg for candy but not too old to “swindle” it from her brother) sorted through the candy and made up a bag for their friend Ian, also living in the RV park, who couldn’t go out due to illness. It was a good night for sure!

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Day 185 – Friday, Nov 1 – It’s Jacin’s last day. We were hoping he’d be off in time to go on a field trip with us, but he didn’t quite make it. The kids and I headed to see a flying car! We were given a tour at the home of Dr Vernon Porter, who is working on the car in his garage. It has a foam interior and fiberglass exterior, with wings that fold underneath. It is the same footprint as a Cadillac Escalade, weighing 2000 lbs loaded with fuel and 2 passengers. It runs on regular car fuel and should range 400 miles at 150 mph before needing to refuel. He used a highly modified air-cooled engine from a 69 Corvair. He is hoping to get some publicity and some investors so that he can eventually sell the car as a kit (which will allow it to be classed as experimental aircraft, keeping the FAA out of the picture). This was a fun field trip and definitely got the gears in Nation’s head spinning. When we got home, Jacin had been there a while and had already replaced the rear hydraulic levelers on the RV, as well as had cleaned out the black tank so well that it finally read “empty” on the gauge (first time ever). I can tell that we are going to run out of things for him to do quite quickly!

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Day 186 – Nov 2 – We had a lazy morning and checked out a local gun shop, then headed to downtown Carrollton for a Festival at the Switchyard, an annual celebration with music and vendors. Nation got to jump on the Spider Jump and had a blast. We walked around a bit, but I started having gut problems, so we hit the movie store as well as the health food store before heading home. Jacin and I made homemade chicken noodle soup (with rice noodles), which is such a tremendous cure-all, and we watched Monster University as a family.

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Day 187 – I am part of the choir at Irving Bible Church, and we were on for all three Sunday services, so I spent most of the day at the church while the family worked on laundry and other such fun things.

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Fun with hardware store purchases

Day 189 – Nov 5 – We’ve been watching the weather to determine the best day to take the DART train to downtown Dallas and tourist around, as there have been storms off and on for several days. The weather forecast today is overcast but warm, so we headed to the train station and jumped on board at nearly the beginning of the green line. We jumped off in Downtown Dallas, near the 6th Floor Museum. Then the kids and I spent two hours in the museum (Jacin had already seen it on an earlier trip to Dallas), learning about Kennedy and the day he was shot, and the days following. It is a really well-done museum. We joined Jacin for lunch at Chipotle, then jumped back on the train and headed to the art district. We walked around for quite a while checking out the sculptures all around town, although Justice seemed more interested in the more hidden artwork intrinsically alive in a big city. We had also read about a Samarai collection at St Anne’s School Building, which took a while to find, but it was certainly worth it. The kids were pretty wiped by the point, so they stared at the pieces from a bench while Jacin and I read the historical information provided with each piece. We headed back to the train and rode it further south so that we could ride it north again when it was dark and witness the city lights. The ride home was long but enjoyable, and we truly had a good day together.

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Day 193 – Sat, Nov 9 – Jacin flew to Denver today to help his best friend, Tony, remodel his bathroom before we head further east. Tickets from Dallas to Denver are quite a steal through Spirits airlines, silly not to take advantage of them. Before taking him to the airport, we hit the Grapevine Mills mall and the boys checked out the LEGOLAND Discovery center while Justice and I did a bit of shopping. The boys had fun with the 4D rides and the mini-models of Fort Worth and Star Wars Cities. After dropping Jacin off, the kids and I hit the grocery store and had a night in.

Day 194 – Today has been filled with church and laundry, and I’ve been working this afternoon while the kids read and play games. Justice has just finished dinner (spaghetti squash with tomato sauce), so I am headed out to enjoy dinner and a movie with the kiddos. I hope you enjoyed the (VERY LENGTHY) update, or if nothing else, the pictures.

Our plan at this point is to head back to Louisiana next Monday after Jacin is back from Denver. He hooked up with another insurance adjustor who has a few shrimp boats that need repairs, and then it sounds like he will try his hand at shrimping! We are excited to head where it’s a bit warmer, and then hopefully back to the Gulf coast for a while.

Blessings on you all! I will hopefully update within the next week with tails of our final field trips in Dallas as well as our first days back in LA.

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