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Blessing of Vacations-2017

Whew, this has been an intensely crazy week.  We returned from a fabulous vacation to Florida on Sunday night and have hit the ground running with a leaky pipe, cement that cracked and needs to be redone, car issues, two doctor’s appointments, school planning, trying to get into the swing of things again and just the onslaught of LIFE!  But..it certainly made the time in Florida all the sweeter!

 

2017 has been a jumble of rough patches with health issues, and with the last news of bacteria growing Paul and I made it a point that we WERE GOING TO MAKE MEMORIES for all of kiddos while we have our oldest home and everyone is healthy.  The stress load in our house on any given moment is pretty high.  And, although vacations are often times still stressful, it is a different type of stress.  A different location, out of the routine, and a different bent on the daily stress, it is still there but somehow different and a smudge better.  Treatments still have to be done everyday, feeding tube meals made and given, and medications taken, not to mention the normal events of caring for 5 kiddos.  Vacations and travel is calculated and weary and we don’t do it every year.

Our crew. It was fun to have all 9 of us traveling together. (9 people in a van and small cabin was fun, but definitely stretched all of us in the area of patience at times). So grateful for the memories made!

River float trip was one of the favorite things for all of us. The kids were giggling, screaming and joyful the entire 3 hour trip. They had a blast jumping in and out of the water and rapids. The other boat in the back was the fishing boat. The boys really wanted to be on that boat. Fishing and quiet…sounded great to them. Maybe next time.

Deserted town hunting. SO FUN!!

 

However, God worked it out that this summer we were able to go on not one, but two wonderful low cost trips.  One to see a dear friend in Wyoming.  We stayed at my friends cabin and enjoy a lot of outdoor beauty and a great deal of “togetherness”.  Some days a little too much. =) If you ever get a chance to go to the Snowy Mountain Range, do it.  It is majestic.  The time in Wyoming was an uplift to my spirit.  My friend/prayer partner has encouraged and supported me through prayer for several years now, and the joy of getting to spend time face to face with her and her family was a definite gift from the Lord.  And while it was great and memorable, it definitely came with a tad of a challenge with the spread of ages and ability to do different things with our family at its stage right now.  We made some great memories four wheeling, hiking, swimming in COLD water, fishing, rafting, watching a rodeo, exploring beauty unseen, and a lot of other amazing experiences.  Though it was such a blessing all around we also recognized the high stress present in our home on most days and the need to really step back and regroup as a family.

At one of the coolest museums in America, in my opinion.

Four wheling fun!

Rachel learning to aim and shoot well.

Boys loved the experience of practicing their shooting skills.

Fun at pond.

Beauty untold!

One of the kids favorite activities.

A quick hike to see one of the most incredible locations. The smelting mill for the copper that was mined out of these parts at the turn of the century. VERY COOL!!! There were still parts of shoes and cans of food from a 100 years ago.

At the base of one of my favorite places on earth. The Green Mountain Falls. Incredibly beautiful area!

At the base of the Green Mountain Falls. Brr, it was cold, but so incredible.

My precious friend!

Caleb looking for a good spot to explore.

Rachel giving her 70 year old grandma a ride on the 4 wheeler. FUN!

Quick stop in the Snowy Mountain Range. Couldn’t resist stopping to get a closer look at the rippling water. BEAUTY!!

The second trip this summer was a unexpected surprise blessing from the Lord.  God provided an incredible home for us to stay in for a week!  God worked out inexpensive flights, a perfect time for us to go,  and several other details.  One of which was not being admitted into the hospital for Rachel!!  Praise the Lord.  We spent a lot of time praying over this trip and God was faithful as He always is!!  It was just what we needed.  The house had a ton of space, actually MUCH more than we needed which was perfect.  Everyone could spread out and feel pampered a bit.  There was a swimming pool in the backyard, a dock to fish off, a pool table for everyone to enjoy, room to set up blenders, and medication station, and treatment area and though that sounds silly, it was an amazing gift and relief to my tired mama’s mind!

 

 

 

 

 

The town we stayed in while in Florida was quite, or at least as quiet as I would expect for a coastal town.  We spent nearly every day at the beach.  Each of the kids really enjoyed it.  They also enjoyed one another too (mostly=)  As with any kids, siblings sometimes pick and bicker at times, but I could definitely tell we were covered by prayer and it made all of the difference in the world).  The week was a good one.  I even had one day that I was not feeling well and I was able to actually take a nap!  That was a real treat to be able to just relax!

The entire trip was a blessing for each and everyone in our family.  Grandma Leaders was able to come along with us and it was a joy to have her.  I know that 5 grandchildren can be loud, overwhelming and a bit obnoxious at sometimes, but it was a treat to have her along with us.  We all returned feeling refreshed, renewed and ready for the busy Fall ahead.

Two interesting things that I didn’t get a picture of, but want to record from our trip.  One was that we forgot a water bottle in Rachel’s backpack because I planned on giving her a feeding tube in the car on the way to the airport, but we were short on time due to toll roads, distance and returning of the vehicle.  I still thought I would have time when we got to the airport.   However, due to having a water bottle the TSA said that they would have to pat down my 12 year old or a parent.  Naturally, Paul stepped up.  TSA then proceeded to have the most intense and lengthy pat down that I have EVER SEEN!!  It was seriously over 10 minutes long.  I think he was frisked full body 4 or 5 times throughly!  CRAZY!!  The boys got a giggle out of knowing of Dad’s profession.  However, the TSA guy never once cracked a smile and was actually rather rude about the whole encounter.  Not to mention I had several liquid bags of Rachel’s liquified food in her medical bag that they didn’t even check!!  So strange.  Anyway, by the time we got through the extremely LONG LINE and the 10 minute full body “massage”, we got to our gate as the first passengers were loading.  (Since we hand carry all of Rachel’s medications, percussor, and breathing equipment with us we are allowed on the plane in that first group in order to ensure her medical equipment has a place and does not have to be gate checked.)  The flight attendant growled at me as we were putting her equipment in the overhead.  He said, “You can’t take all of the room from everyone else!”  I politely, but I am sure with more of an edge than I would have liked, said, “This is life sustaining medical equipment that my daughter requires for her health!”  He looked at me and then looked at her with that…”but she looks healthy look”.  About that time I realized that she was looking very weary and exhausted and that while we had planned to get a bite to eat before boarding we had not had a chance.  Rachel had only had a couple of nibbles of crackers all day in the rush of everything.  It was now nearly 2 and I could physically see her body starting to droop (I am certain she is on the front end of some blood sugar issue.)  Anyway, I then began getting the supplies out for Rachel’s feeding.  I asked the same flight attendant if he had a water that I could buy (we had dumped the other 7 waters planning to get some before boarding) so that I could give her the feeding and flush her g-tube?  The look on his face was priceless!!  And he quickly handed us a BIG BOTTLE of water!  We were naturally grateful as she took her HANDFUL of pills, and prepared to get her feeding done in the midst of the craziness of other passengers loading a plane.  What a reminder of the hiddenness of CF.  You cannot look at her and know the daily struggles that she faces in order to just BE ON THAT PLANE next to her family!!  The luggage, the feeds, the weariness on her face… only the tip of the iceberg and something that not many can see.  But after we finished and readied for take off,

I took a deep breath and was incredibly thankful for the trials, the struggles and the AMAZING opportunity to experience life and NEW MEMORIES!

Both Wyoming and Florida were gifts from the hand of the Lord.  We are thankful beyond words and will treasure them both!

God is good! ALL THE TIME!!

 

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