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Our First Hike Back in Indiana!

Hello sweet friends!  

We are back in Indiana and today was the first day it's been sunny.  I woke up in just a horrid mood.  I couldn't shake it no matter what I did.  Don't you simply hate when that happens?  I decided to do what I could to try to get out of my funk but no amount of bubble baths, quiet times, or rests were helping me feel better.  After praying I realized that what I needed was to get out of the house.  

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So that's just what we did.  We took our first hike of the year (here back home in Indiana) and it felt glorious!  It was pretty cold, not quite in the 40's yet but there was a gentle breeze with the sun.  It was invigorating!  

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It is amazing how much serenity the outdoors offers, whether in the way of a desert as we were in last month or the woods where we found ourselves today.  The birds, the smells, the stillness, the peace, it all culminates in a quiet churning that finds a way into the depths of our souls.  

I would encourage you to get outdoors.  Force yourself.  As one who didn't used to consider herself "outdoorsy" I can attest that it does get easier and once over a certain precipice becomes addictive in an ethereal way.  

Today has gone much better since our time outdoors.  We all were able to come home and concentrate on our tasks at hand.  We buzzed through all of our schoolwork and chores for, what other reason, than to get back outside! 

To the outdoors, friends! 

Great American Road Trip: Day 3

Day 3 was a lot of driving.  Ten hours to be exact!  

I was so glad that we split up this trip.  First of all, I have no idea how anyone could drive 25 hours straight, but also, I think 10 hours in the car is pretty much our limit.  

Great American Road Trip!  Homeschooling family out on the road to take on the wild west! via Super Busy at Home

We all were pretty crabby by the time we got to our destination, El Paso!   

Thankfully our hotel in Oklahoma City had breakfast so we all had a high protein breakfast before we left...by the way if you are wondering, yes, the kids do sometimes hate that I make them eat so healthy.  'Tis life!  

We were planning on going to the Oklahoma Science museum but to our surprise the kids just wanted to hit the road.  Weird!  So that's what we did! 

On the outskirts of town we stopped at MACU, one of our churches colleges, and drove around.  We took a picture of Emma there.  You never know where she'll want to go to school! 

Great American Road Trip!  Homeschooling family out on the road to take on the wild west! via Super Busy at Home

Then we drove on, and on and on.  So I guess it was okay it was dark the night before in OK because we got to see plenty of it on Day 3!  

When we got into Texas we started to see rockier soil and cactus which the kids were so thrilled to see!  So thrilled we got out at the side of the Interstate to take a picture.  Nick's saying "we're on the Interstate!" and when I was taking the kids photo the kids are telling me "um, dad's driving away" in Nicholas' typical I'm going to fake you out fashion.  

Great American Road Trip!  Homeschooling family out on the road to take on the wild west! via Super Busy at Home
Great American Road Trip!  Homeschooling family out on the road to take on the wild west! via Super Busy at Home

Oh how I love our little family!  After that we discussed the topography and how there's no line where the black soil ends and red begins and then red turns into dessert but it's more of a gradual process. I know I'm such a dork but I love that the kids can learn while we are traveling.  It's been such an experience to see them finally "get it".  Even in homeschooling where learning is more one on one, it still is not often times in real life.  That's just not practical.  But when it can be, amazing things happen!  

Anyway, we stopped in a small town where we stretched our legs and the kids played on the playground.  It felt good to soak in some sun and fresh air but it was still so cold!  

Great American Road Trip!  Homeschooling family out on the road to take on the wild west! via Super Busy at Home

Then more driving.  Are you sensing a theme here?  It was super boring.  Emma and I both get carsick when reading otherwise I would have spent the whole time with my nose in a good book!

The kids entertained themselves with allotted DS time, writing in their travel journal, doodling, doing mad-libs, and one time we let them watch a movie.  I have been noticing that the less opportunities I give them to use DVD players or their game systems, the less they seem to care if they play them or not. Hallelujah!  

We arrived in El Paso about 10 our time, and 8 in El Paso time.  Our Apple maps pulled up a list of nearby restaurants so we chose Pei Wei.  The authentic welcome to El Paso meal is Chinese food, right?  We all were laughing about that but it sounded good to everyone and it hit the spot!  

Calvin got wonton soup which he kept describing as heavenly.  "You should try some Em.  The noodly part is just heavenly and the meat is heavenly.  The whole thing is heavenly."  

Great American Road Trip!  Homeschooling family out on the road to take on the wild west! via Super Busy at Home

After the Chinese food we had about half an hour of driving through El Paso to get to our hotel.  El Paso by the way has a ton of people!  I would liken it to the citys of Philly or Indy.  That size.  The drive was really great because Nick, who has been here lots of times, pointed things out to us and we got to see the mountains. 

Great American Road Trip!  Homeschooling family out on the road to take on the wild west! via Super Busy at Home

When we got to the hotel, I think it took us three trips with the luggage trolley to bring everything in...there was a lot of stuff!  But for a family of four who is homeschooling and staying somewhere for three weeks, I guess a lot of stuff is required! 

It feels so good to be settled and to have everything in its right place!  

Now, onto Day 4! 

Great American Road Trip: Day 2

We spent the night in St. Louis and awoke ready to take on the day!  

Our hotel didn't offer breakfast so I brought oatmeal cups (full of flax seeds!) to eat.  The kids scarfed them down along with yogurt, apples, and orange juice.  I was so thankful for kiddos who do not complain about me packing food and not eating out.  I am one blessed Momma, indeed!  

After breakfast we drove to the arch and spent some time driving around.  I always wonder if everyone does this or not but we always have to go and look at the edifices and the pediments and the whos and doodles.  I guess this is the weirdness of being married to an architect.  But I love history and he loves buildings and like I always say, it's a marriage made in heaven!  

We parked and made our way to the historic courthouse where the Dred Scott decision was made.  We had just studied this case a couple of weeks before so to stand in the courthouse where the decision was made that Dred and his wife would continue to be slaves was quite sombering.  I didn't know I could feel any sadder until we went out the other door of the courthouse and stood on the steps where the two were sold in a slave auction to two different owners.  

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We walked to the arch which, just so you know, was frigid!  Brrr.  A seven minute walk feels neverending in the icy wind.  I could not wrap my hear around how this was going to go but you purchase a ticket with a  time that you can go up into the arch.  Then you wait around until they take the tickets for your time.  Then you go down into the ground and wait and wait.  After that you are shown a movie with the crowd of people you are going up into the arch with.  After the movie they assign you a pod or "tram" as they call them.  There are five seats in each one so they put people together according to how many you have in your group.  We had four and no one was riding solo so we had our tram all to ourselves.  After that you wait for your tram to come back down from bringing people down, you get in and go up.  

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We were surprised at how small the windows are at the top of the arch. But the views to the east and west were spectacular.  It was a really good place for conversations as we had learned this year about the Louisiana Purchase and how much land that brought into America.  

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After the arch we hit the road and headed towards  President Ulysses S. Grant's home.  It was a beautiful home and was really interesting.  They had a museum about him too in a barn her had created to raise race horses.  It was fascinating to learn how, during the war, so many people disliked him due to so many reasons: they thought he was a drunk, they called him the Butcher because he killed so many people, and they had derogatory names for him because he didn't like to speak to the press or be in the public eye.  But in the end he ended up becoming President.  

After the Grant home we went to lunch at Five Guys.  Calvin had been begging to go to one so we fulfilled his wish and took him to one last stop for his "birthday".  It was really good food and with happy bellies we started back on the road.  

We started driving from the St.  Louis area and in about seven hours we arrived in Oklahoma City.  The only part of the journey I was sad about was that it was so dark by the time we reached Oklahoma.  But the stars were out in the masses so we were able to look at those through the sunroofs.  So fun! 

When we got to Oklahoma City we were so tired!  We ate some dinner of leftovers and went to bed!  

Onto Day3! 

Great American Road Trip: Day 1

Welcome to our Great American Road Trip!  While we are not driving across all of America, Nick got me this adorable coffee mug before we left and therefore I simply had to call this trip by that name.  How cute is this mug? I love drinking coffee from a mug rather than those hotel paper cups...it was so thoughtful of him to get me this so I could drink coffee like a real, live person! 

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There are so many things from family vacations, or trips, or whatever they are to be called that happen and then escape my memory.  Especially from this Momma.  I always think I am going to write them down but I am always too busy unpacking everyone to actually sit down and do it while we are on vacation.  When I get home I always tell myself that I will remember everything and will write it down as soon as I can but laundry and life quickly take over and before I know it I've forgotten when we went to that one place and when we stayed in that certain city and again, I've lost it in the deep recesses of my memory.  

So this trip I thought that I would write it down as it happens on here!  What a novel idea seeing as I have this website and all! 

We started out on Saturday, January 13th. We left about an hour later than I wanted to but I'm counting my blessings that it was only one hour.  After all, packing for a 23 day trip was a lot of work!  I am so much of a list person but this time the trip just seemed to sneak up on me and we suddenly seemed to just be chucking things at Nick to put in the car, hoping that everything would fit.  

The roads were horrendous.  The toll road was not great and sliding at 80 mph is really not great.  Thankfully by the time we got to Chicago it cleared up and after that it was smooth sailing.  We drove down Illinois to Springfield.  We arrived soon after the NPS site was open and we were able to go tour Abraham Lincoln's home.  It was so fun and neat!  We learned lots of facts and the kids were able to earn a Junior Ranger Badge.  I love that program by the way...it's like tricky homeschooling where they learn without me having to do it.  Win, win!  I will say, I was surprised that we were able to get through all of the house and earn our badges in under an hour. I think there must be more to do there during the summer months but seeing as there were frigid temperatures, we didn't stay long to check out the village experience that goes with the house.  Next time though!  

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After Springfield we drove about an hour and a half to St. Louis, Missouri.  Nobody in our family had ever been to Missouri so it was a lot of fun to cross the border into Missouri with a lot of whooping and hollering.  I love our little family! This part of the trip was part driving to El Paso for work and part stopping in a cool city to celebrate Calvin's birthday.  

We went into out hotel to get checked in and relax a bit.  That's when we realized that nobody had grabbed Calvin's other shoes. Mom fail.  

After that we called for a taxi and then took that to the City Museum.  We had heard so many wonderful things about the museum.  When we got there there was a bus on the top of the building and knew that we were going to have fun! 

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When we got there there were lots of things to do but we were all kind of cautious.  After the kids kind of got lost from us we all warmed up a bit and were able to have more fun!  We spent about four hours there and by that time we were ready to go.  Nick loved walking around and seeing all of the building parts that they had.  There were tons of building facades and the huge stone trim that goes along the top of buildings.  I was impressed by the walls that were made out of printing plates.  We both were impressed with how they made everything out of old building parts...rebar, conveyor belts, etc.  We were very  impressed and had so much fun! 

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After the City Museum we took a taxi back to the hotel. We let the kids swim and then we got ready for dinner.  

We went to Cunetto's House of Pasta in the Italian district of St. Louis and we were able to meet up with our good friend Kyle!  It was yummy food and lots of fun to catch up!  

After dinner we had some errands to run and then we were in the mood for ice cream.  Heading back downtown to our hotel, we went to Clementine's Naughty and Nice Creamery.  They had really inventive flavors and they were made with all natural ingredients.  It was amazing!  Yum!  

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And that was the night!  I would say we were super nervous about our car in St. Louis because we had heard really bad things but it ended up being fine.  

Onto day 2...