8
Nov

A dose of reality as we head out

8 duffle bags and 8 backpacks wait in our schoolroom.

We have maxed out our big 12 passenger and will be having a friend not only drive us to the airport, but also towing our utility trailer behind us with our luggage as well as my parents’ luggage and 3 strollers.  Moments like this make me realize we have a larger than typical family.  Funnily enough, someone seems like they are missing.
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Nw for the dose of reality.  Little Theodore’s photos haven’t been shared a lot by us.  I know it’s a little strange for those who have walked with us through our other adoptions.  Truth be told his first photos just made us heartbreakingly sad.  9 months old and 9 pounds.  Red eyes from crying.  Unable to sit.  A long list of expensive lab tests had been run.  His stated diagnosis was clear cut in one respect and very dire in another.  He was not meeting milestones, nor was he ever expected to, according to one respected professional who looked at his medical file for us.

And yet we sent in our letter seeking to adopt him and make him our son.

Why?

Because he’s worth it.  

Totally worth it.

Our agency director went looking for an update.  She called his orphanage and found that he had been transferred to a special medical foster home run by a NGO (non-governmental organization) in the same province. We were thrilled!  His pictures show a very serious little face, but he is now nearly 26 months old and he has gained 10 pounds and 10 inches.

We aren’t sure what his medical future will hold, but we do know that God woke us up to love him unconditionally, to fight for him, to give him a place to belong.  We have several medical teams available to us here in North America and once we are home with him we will pursue all of our options to get him the best treatment we can.

 

And we have been given a little glimpse into his personality.

Theodore belly laughs when he is tickled!

 How great is that?!

As we leave tomorrow please pray for us about the following:

*easy travel (all parents will understand the full depth of our request!)

*that Theodore’s heart will be prepared in whatever way it can be for the enormous life altering changes about to occur.  Adoption, while redemptive, is still trauma.

*the hearts of our Chinese born children who are returning to their birth country.  So much processing has already occurred as we went through this preparation for this trip.  They are new ages for this homeland visit and with each new developmental stage come new ideas, memories and levels of processing.  Pray that this will be a rich time for them to see China, to know China and to love China.

*the hearts of my children not Chinese born.  They have welcomed their siblings like kings.  They have embraced their adopted country wholeheartedly.  They look at China with pride and realism and helped our other children feel brave and strong in spite of the complexity of what they are processing.  They take leadership roles with their younger siblings on all of our travels and it can be exhausting.  Pray that they would have strength beyond their years and experience.  Also, pray for their patience while trying to breach the great firewall of China in order to connect with their loved ones and peers back home. Not.even.kidding.

*Health.  Stephen and I have been trying to get healthier over the past six months knowing this was coming.  We are on a continuing journey with this, but I pray that God would honour our attempts and keep our backs strong, our stomachs ironclad and our sleep deep (even if only for a few short hours – haha!).

*for my parents.  They come with us on these trips and there is very little glory in it.  It is not how most couples would choose to spend their empty nest or retirement vacations, but they do it without any complaint about missing the actual tourist areas, grumpy grandchildren (and, ahem, children), and enormous piles of luggage and children attracting stares and stopping traffic everywhere we go.  Please pray for their health and that they would be able to enjoy their time away in spite of the busy schedule.

*for Stephen & I.  It’s physically exhausting, but it’s also emotionally taxing.  I’ve cried more in the past few days than I have in, oh, about two years.  Adoption does that in the final days before we leave.  Pray that I would hear God prompting me to be quiet as Steve leads us and that I would listen more to Him rather than trying to control each and every detail.  Truthfully, that is my downfall.  And pray that Stephen wouldn’t run down to far as he tries to juggle all of us and be emotionally available to all of our many and varied needs.

And thank you, each and every one, who has offered to pray for us.  We’ll be thanking God for you all too!

19
Oct

A New Week

D&D.  Stephen & James broke out a new campaign tonight and had Faith join them.  Something about needing more characters to fight monsters alongside them or something.  It was so nice tonight to feel like we could blog and play.  Yay for sleeping toddlers!

D&D. Stephen & James broke out a new campaign tonight and had Faith join them. Something about needing more characters to fight monsters alongside them or something. It was so nice tonight to feel like we could blog and play. Yay for sleeping toddlers!

I bought some new entertainment this week.  Grace, Garnet and Samuel spent quite a bit of time playing together.  The time away is (as always!) bonding them closer.

I bought some new entertainment this week. Grace, Garnet and Samuel spent quite a bit of time playing together. The time away is (as always!) bonding them closer.

Oh Chick-Fil-A - I so do love your yummy grilled wraps and BBQ sauce.

Oh Chick-Fil-A – I so do love your yummy grilled wraps and BBQ sauce.

Shoo Fly Pie.  Samuel and Isaiah spent one evening practicing saying that.  :)  Yummy, but super densely sweet!

Shoo Fly Pie. Samuel and Isaiah spent one evening practicing saying that. :) Yummy, but super densely sweet!

I spent many hours holding Isaiah upright to keep him comfortable.  He was so swollen form the waist down after his surgery.  Can you see how his feet are totally opposite to how they were when we left home a month ago?  Amazing!  Plus, who doesn't love the striped casts?

I spent many hours holding Isaiah upright to keep him comfortable. He was so swollen form the waist down after his surgery. Can you see how his feet are totally opposite to how they were when we left home a month ago? Amazing! Plus, who doesn’t love the striped casts?

It rained so hard that the roof in our century plus house leaked - fortunately, only into the master shower.

It rained so hard that the roof in our century plus house leaked – fortunately, only into the master shower.

Last week.  Oh, last week.

We all just felt like we were barely holding on.  But we made it.  We made it.

Isaiah did his semi-retreat tonight as we readied him for bed and prepared for tomorrow at the hospital.  But he had just had a really, really normal sort of day, and it wasn’t more than a minute or so and he settled in for sleep  This weekend just got better and better.  We slept, ate, played, caught up on some schoolwork.  Stephen’s back is even unknotting little by little.

So thankful to head into this week feeling like we have a bit of margin.  Hoping that when he realizes that he won’t be having surgery, just cast changes and brace fittings, he’ll settle in to his routine there.  His routine involves a lot of unhappiness, but it is familiar by now and hopefully he’ll be able to process that.

The other kids are really doing so much better.  Colds have passed. Play has resumed and they are talking about things they want to do. All good things.

Surgery weeks are always tough but this one seemed to pile it on, but we weren’t alone.  I have been so thankful for friends and family who came alongside us these past days.  You all mean so much to us.  When we felt at our most exhausted and stretched, you kept us focused on the fact that we weren’t walking through this alone.

Please keep on praying for Isaiah’s heart.  While his body seems like the most vulnerable part of him, his sensitive spirit is struggling to hold on.

My prayer this week has been thankfulness for God’s care for my little boy.  Just like Mephibosheth, God hasn’t forgotten my Isaiah. Not for one day of his life. He took a little boy from a rural area in China and brought him through a series of seemingly random events to a family in Canada, and is being treated by two of the foremost teams of specialists for his arthrogryposis in the whole world.  How can I doubt His care for me too?  His goodness in our exhaustion? His tenderness in my need to control?  And for those scholars out there that would like to point out the fact that this passage illustrates a common middle eastern tradition of restitution, that is true. But to me, he was a man whom everyone had forgotten.  Maybe even, Mephibosheth, thought he was forgotten.  But he didn’t escape God’s notice.  Nope. he was brought to the forefront of the king’s household and cared for with honour for the rest of his life.  I take so much joy in these words.  God knows our needs.  We aren’t journeying alone through life.  As long as we draw breath, His eye is on us and our story is not over.  Good stuff to contemplate, yes?

2 Samuel (2 Samuel 9:1-13):

9 David asked, “Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?”

2 Now there was a servant of Saul’s household named Ziba. They summoned him to appear before David, and the king said to him, “Are you Ziba?”

“At your service,” he replied.

3 The king asked, “Is there no one still alive from the house of Saul to whom I can show God’s kindness?”

Ziba answered the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan; he is lame in both feet.”

4 “Where is he?” the king asked.

Ziba answered, “He is at the house of Makir son of Ammiel in Lo Debar.”

5 So King David had him brought from Lo Debar, from the house of Makir son of Ammiel.

6 When Mephibosheth son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, came to David, he bowed down to pay him honor.

David said, “Mephibosheth!”

“At your service,” he replied.

7 “Don’t be afraid,” David said to him, “for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table.”

8 Mephibosheth bowed down and said, “What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?”

9 Then the king summoned Ziba, Saul’s steward, and said to him, “I have given your master’s grandson everything that belonged to Saul and his family. 10 You and your sons and your servants are to farm the land for him and bring in the crops, so that your master’s grandson may be provided for. And Mephibosheth, grandson of your master, will always eat at my table.” (Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants.)

11 Then Ziba said to the king, “Your servant will do whatever my lord the king commands his servant to do.” So Mephibosheth ate at David’s[a] table like one of the king’s sons.

12 Mephibosheth had a young son named Mika, and all the members of Ziba’s household were servants of Mephibosheth. 13 And Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, because he always ate at the king’s table; he was lame in both feet.

14
Oct

Surgery tomorrow and a reality check

We head out around 4:30 tomorrow morning for Isaiah’s tenotomies (achilles heel releases and possibly hip tendon releases – to be decided in the OR). We are blessed that our doctor decided to do it at 7:30pm last night and has him booked in first thing Wednesday morning.This is what we came for, so onward we go.

Things to pray for?

Peace. That we would receive the peace that God has waiting for us. We are not doing so great at receiving. It’s a moment by moment act of the will, and well, that doesn’t sound too peaceful does it?

Isaiah. He has a lot of bruising on his feet. The casting is getting tougher and tougher.  He is fighting even me now. I’m his soft spot and he’s stopped receiving comfort on my terms.  I have to hold the line with him while pouring on the compassion.  (No one slept ALL night last night.)  His heel bones have always been really, really high, making his heel pads super soft and spongy.  This will allow his heel bone to drop and gain flexion on his foot pad.  His tenotomies were not successful in China and we knew we had to go with this type of procedure versus the one offered to us in Portland in order to try to prevent irreparable damage, but it is still risky because of the prior failures.  We are believing God’s care over Isaiah.  He is so precious to Him and we are doing the best we can as parents to choose wisely, but at the end of it all, it is up to God as to His plan for Isaiah’s walking.  Of course we ask and believe that he may walk here on earth, but if not in the now it does not lessen his importance to God.  We can’t explain all of this to him and it is tough to see him feeling betrayed when he begs me to make it stop.  I choose to accept God’s care for him in this.  It’s too big for me to try and process on my own.

Stephen.  He has back trouble from a multitude of things in his teens, but the stress and long hours driving has blown it to pieces.  He spent last night on the floor.  He’s just spent the past couple hours at urgent care and now he’ll be on meds so strong that he can not drive for the next week.  He’s frustrated, in agony and tired and there have been headaches at work.  On the plus side, I found us a network chiropractor nearby.  We’ll give that a try tomorrow.

The kids as a herd.  They are managing to zone out on copious amounts of screen time.  We catch schoolwork as we can and try to offer options for something other than a screen.  Reality is though, they are tired of it all but the least affected because, hey!, what’s not to like about screens? For now.  Perhaps I need prayer that this enjoyment will last until we get a breather.  This is only a season has become my chant.

James.  Trying to cover for us as we run hither and yon.  Also trying to keep up with his college courses.  It’s a lot.  He’s tired.

Faith.  She tends towards internalizing her stress at the best of times.  She has had a bump in her back reappear.  It is the same bump that she had as an infant and the one my brother-in-law (a network chiropractor) fixed when she was tiny.  She’s hurting.  hopeful that the chiropractor can offer some help tomorrow.

Grace, Garnet and Samuel.  They are doing really well.  Okay, they are exhausted from not sleeping last night and they are getting over their colds, but they are doing well at their schoolwork and enjoying the downtime.  We have to keep drawing them out when we get home, but overall they have done alright considering the upheaval.

Colds.  Each of us has had one form or the other.  I’ve been chugging greens and Achillea, but the rest of the family turns their nose up at them.  I was smugly healthy, but started the ay with quite a scratchy throat.  So far so good.  I’ll keep on with the Achillea.

And me.  I’m nervous about driving into the city for the surgery tomorrow.  I have a feeling the ride home will be tough.  I will probably ask James to come with and try to help Isaiah on the way back to the house.  They will do his casting post surgery while he is under, but that doesn’t mean he’ll be happy on his way home.  The traffic is so much more aggressive here.  I am thankful we drive a tank, but the speeds are always higher than posted (120-140 miles per hour).  And people don’t often signal.  And they tailgate.  A lot.  Saying this stuff, giving it over to God to deal with and choosing to accept His peace instead of the anxiety.

Just keeping it very, very real.

 

9
Oct

Catching up

Or maybe it should be, “Catching my Breath”.

Three cast changes so far.  Yellow and Green.  Yellow and Orange.  Pink and Red. Isaiah has been very specific.  He’s extremely terrified of the saw and he not only screams in terror but shakes and trembles the entire time they are removing his three casts.  He continues to tremble for many minutes afterwards.  During the actual casting process he cries and begs me to stop them.  He uses a very clear and direct voice to tell me.  Not hysterical, just direct.  Steve hold his trunk down and I hold his limb.  There is the doctor casting and assuring the correct angles are achieved, while the physician’s assistant or sometime several prep and cast, as well.  Usually the care coordinator is there to oversee the whole thing and keep us talking, trying to distract Isaiah, with minimal success.  It’s essentially one big, exhausting gong show.

Why do we do it?  Results.  So much progress has been made in the past 3 changes.  The doctors are encouraging and keep us focused.  We are being affirmed to continue massaging him and stretching his limbs out as much as we can in both the passive and active stretches. And to top it all off both doctors have been unwavering in their hope for him.  His upper extremities doctor just exclaims over the ability he has to activate and trigger is left forearm muscles (this is really, really big!).  His lower extremities doctor talks like he fully hopes for Isaiah to stand and walk.  We try and temper the comments in our heads with (yeah, with a walker. or right, but that’s only one set of muscles.), but the hope is contagious, especially in the face of such experience and surety.  We are totally in this for results.  And we can measure them with our eyes already.

We also began sessions with the attachment therapist. Without betraying confidences, I can describe it in two words: focused and exhausting.  (Catch that word again? Exhausting?  Yeah.  We are so tired.)

Stephen has been driving us 1.5-2, sometimes 3, hours each way for every single day we have had an appointment or time out.  With the outings we did last weekend it was 5 days last week and then the other two days involved groceries and errands.  His arms are sore.  I’m trying to fit in hours of homeschooling around the appointments and while I am totally thrilled with the progress the kids are making, it makes for little to no down time.  The days end involves putting the kids to bed while carving a bit of one on one time with each child.  Then comes homeschool prep and Stephen’s work hours.  We go to bed late and get up a few time in the night for Isaiah’s medication, before doing it all again the next morning.

Sound whiny? It’s not meant to be.  I just needed to write this all down so I can remember what it was like in this season.

Beauty around us? Endless pumpkin patches.  Yellow corn fields.  High stepping Amish horses passing our front door.  Chick-Fil-A (who knew they were right about it – so yummy!).  Scented candles.  Figuring out details of our time here (the best grocer, how to get a US mailbox).  And the kids at mealtime. They are so funny.  I keep taking mental pictures at that meal.  I don’t want to forget them at these ages.

So, if I’ve promised you something, dropped the ball and not responded in a timely fashion, out and out forgotten something, please offer me some grace.  I’m doing the best I can.  We are surviving and at times still thriving. We are in it to win it.  We just may need to catch a nap sometime soon.

From Paradise…

30
Sep

1st Day of Homeschool 2014-2015

I was pretty pleased with how today went.  That’s not the case every year, but I have been becoming more and more convinced of what our kids need to know versus what I thought they should know.  This is so important when speaking of the education of asynchronous learners. Progressively it has been getting easier and easier each year to hold to our educational path and stress less over checklists and envy over others’ experiences.  I asked the kids at supper to rate how they felt today went and how they thought the year ahead would be.  It was overwhelmingly positive.  I think that speaks for itself.

On the other hand, I forgot to snap some first day photos.  Can’t win ’em all.  There’ll be time for first week photos yet, I’m sure.  :)

29
Sep

Great news day

imageimageimage image imageFirst visit at hospital for Isaiah. Tremendously encouraging prognosis.  An obviously well verses team. Casting on his left arm and bothimage image imagelegs already today. Isaiah spoke directly to us and told us his troubles but no regression or aggression and no overt symptoms of trauma.  Hugely thankful as we were concerned specifically about that. He’s very uncomfortable tonight. On T3 and Advil but he is dozing now. It was tough on him but we have renewed hope. The overarching vision is for him to walk. His arms are being readied for greater use and self care. So different from what we were told from his first team. His body will determine how far he can go and no one will truly know that until they try. The plan involves a number of trips over the coming years and further casting and surgeries. We will be here for some time yet but it will be worth it to know he has a chance to improve his physical life.

The day began with an early sunrise drive and tomorrow is the first day of school for us (structured work), not to mention Isaiah has been waking every so often, so I need to sleep.

Such an encouraging, exhausting day! (By the way, Isaiah chose his own cast colours. They asked him which colours without showing options and these are the two he wanted. He knows his own mind.) (Oh, and the top photo is of Garnet on the porch practicing his TKD kicks while Dad holds the target.)

 

 

28
Sep

Testing… Testing…

Pardon the weird formatting. I will fix it once the computer is set up. )

We drove into Philly today on a test run. We hit heavy traffic and so we’ll have to make sure to allow extra time for commutes to appointments. We also picked up a bunchimage image imageof supplies for the next bit, bought a couple things for Garnet’s birthday (“Did you know my birthday is in THREE days, Mom?”) and finished up the paperwork for the appointments we have this week. We also had a few moments that varied from trying to squeeze our behemoth into a very low parking garage.  We juuuuuust fit. :)  It’s also been interesting snooping in stores. It takes us 3 times as long as usual to shop because the packaging is different and while everything is labelled in English, the selection is super abundant for some items and non-existent for others. And the highways?  They curl in and out of each other like a ball of string. We have our van gps map on, Stephen’s phone on Google maps, a thick map book and then use my phone to ask Siri for help on top of it all. A few moments of frustration and a few wry laughs and we get the job done!

 

26
Sep

Coal Miner’s Daughter

image image image image

(Don’t mind the upside down photos, I’ll fix them later.)

Peoria, Illinois to Steubenville, Ohio

So technically we have been driving through a lot of urban sprawl but for some reason all day long I’ve had “Coal Miner’s Daughter” in my head. (Wasn’t Loretta Lynn from Kentucky??)  Anyway, in the irony that is my life, what did we pass on our way here tonight?  A HUGE coal refinery. It was awe inspiring to drive past it’s huge lights and towering smelter (?).  Actuallseasy a little frightening because on first appearance it seemed to appear out of no where.  Kind of freaky cool.

Lots of hours in the van again. We met some really interesting people at each of our pit stops. Real characters.

I like chatting with people in settings totally foreign to me (odd but true). This trip has proven that most people just want to share a bit about themselves and hear a bit in return.  We’re all pretty curious and when you get right down to it most people are more than willing to share a smile or share a moment. I think it’s one of my favourite things about travelling.  Now when I think of South Dakota or Illinois I have that cast of characters to hang memories on.

The kids played a number of rounds of Bingo. Faith avoids all games like the plague and Isaiah is content to hold a card. The other four duke it out pretty fiercely. So far the wins are:

James – 11

Garnet – 8

Grace – 5

Samuel – 3

Prizes are received at stops along the way. Mostly junk food which Faith does not generally care for and Isaiah begs for until some passing sibling shares a piece of their winnings. Truth. It passes the time nicely.

We are getting close to our temporary residence now. Stephen and I are becoming more snappish and feeling more ages and pains. The reality of the next week has hit. The treatment plan or the decision to not treat Isaiah will be worked out by Monday evening.

It’s always such a mixed bag when you are raising kids with complex physical, emotional or cognitive needs. First and foremost they are your child. You cheer them, correct them, lead them and basically do life in the same way as every other family you know. But, when you are faced with a new medical procedure, a new treatment or therapy, that’s when it hits you that something big is looming.  Be it for good or bad, it looms. And I takes it’s toll on each of us in the family herd.

No matter what the outcome of the hospital visit on Monday, we’ll all be okay. We’ve done hard before and each of us has found ways to not only survive but thrive.  I guess at the bottom of it all we just wish in these moments that it wasn’t our kid facing it too. But I’d say that probably that makes us fairly normal. Average even.

So, onward we go!

As an aside, we are staying at a hotel within the grounds of a Franciscan University. It is really quite nice but between the style of the hotel and the goosebumps the coal plant gave me, I couldn’t help but think of a character out of the classic Scooby Doo characters when we met one of the staff here down the long subterranean hallway. Okay, maybe not entirely subterranean, but definitely out of the way. Stephen just shakes his head at me. Remember what I said about a cast of characters though?  It looks like I have a new one for Ohio!  😉

 

 

 

 

 

24
Sep

Small towns have the nicest people

Keystone, South Dakota to Omaha, Nebraska

A pretty long, low key day.  Drove from South Dakota, to Iowa, to Nebraska.  The highlight, not pictured, was stopping at a small town diner where the waitress fussed over us (Isaiah especially) and where a who was heading out the door after her meal ran back to the kitchen to grab me a towel when I spilled my coke all over my lap.  Apparently her boyfriend works there and so it was no big deal.  Somehow, in the process of it all I laughingly said that it only happens when the clean clothes are limited on a trip.  She agreed and said that she finds the same thing when she is travelling to take her son to Cincinnati Shriners!  Well, we had a nice camaraderie after that!

The only other tidbit was during the first hour of the day.  I brought out the Interstate Bingo cards that Stephen had bought early in the summer.  Boy did we suddenly see Grace’s head pop up out of her screen!  She was on it!  It was a rather loud and exuberant hour, and in the end, Garnet won once and James, yes, our dear eldest, won six times!  I think we need to rig it tomorrow for better odds!  Haha!

 

Good morning, Isaiah!  He LOVED the rocking chairs out front of the hotel.

Good morning, Isaiah! He LOVED the rocking chairs out front of the hotel.

How I travel.  Map book and camera.

How I travel. Map book and camera.

An Iowa sunset through the bug-kill.

An Iowa sunset.

Samuel has become very focused on colouring today.  I don't think he's coloured this much in all his prior 6 years!  He even tucks his crayon behind his ear to hold it while he adjusts his clipboard and colouring page.  VERY cute!

Samuel has become very focused on colouring today. I don’t think he’s coloured this much in all his prior 6 years! He even tucks his crayon behind his ear to hold it while he adjusts his clipboard and colouring page. VERY cute!

South Dakota.  Very flat and Saskatchewan like in the south east.

South Dakota. Very flat and Saskatchewan like in the south east.

Isaiah was pretending to nap.  All of a sudden he burst into song along with the music that was playing... with his eyes squished shut, of course.  We burst out laughing!

Isaiah was pretending to nap. All of a sudden he burst into song along with the music that was playing… with his eyes squished shut, of course. We burst out laughing!

Early pilgrimage to the van.

Early pilgrimage to the van.

Stephen reloading the van - again.

Stephen reloading the van – again.

She's a cutie.  Curious about what's in Faith's backpack?  A sketchbook and novels, naturally.

She’s a cutie. Curious about what’s in Faith’s backpack? A sketchbook and novels, naturally.

23
Sep

Tourist by day and night

We had a later start this morning but made up for it with a full day of sight seeing. We visited Mt. Rushmore early in the day and followed it up with their light up ceremony in the evening. We really enjoyed walking the presidential trail and seeing the monument from various angles. It is truly a marvel. The evening event was exceptionally patriotic and over all we appreciated the overview of American history. There were a few statements made that smacked a bit of propaganda, however I was pleased to see our older kids pick up on it on their own. In its context it is interesting to see the American viewpoint. We appreciated the flag ceremony and presentation of active and veteran servicemen and women at the end of the day.

Midday, we went to Besr Country USA which is a drive thru animal park. I saw more bears than I have seen prior combined. Dozens. Even a full sized adult grizzly, although thankfully it was in it’s own enclosure. We saw dozens of black bears, as well as enormous elk, wolves, bison and many other animals. A very cool experience!

A surprising side trip led us to Dinosaur Park in Rapid City. We followed some signs that led to a n almost 360 degree view of the city. The surprise?  The life size yet cheezy dinosaur statues at the top of the hill.  The rest of the crew laid low in the a/c in the van.  Garnet had a photo shoot on the dinos, and Steve and I burned off some steam climbing the stairs and walking around up top. We followed this with a trip to Boston’s, the US version of BP. It seems to be a family favourite when we travel.

The gift shop at the Bear place was interesting too. Watching Samuel choose a stuffy is a highlight for me even though it is always a lengthy process. He has to stroke them all for ultimate softness, give them the hug test and finally tuck them under his arm to see if he can carry them easily. I honestly love watching it all unfold. Finding a toy for Isaiah is all about buttons he can control himself (success with a glowing, swirling thingamabob).  Grace zeroes in on the animals. This time it was a small animal figurine. She loves to display her treasures. At the light up Samuel found a junior park ranger vest with roughly a million pockets. We were sold. So much better than a back pack for him to carry his treasures.

Tomorrow is another driving day.  Mt. Rushmore was full of surprises. A fun stop over on our way to the east coast.