Wednesday, April 27, 2011

De Smet, South Dakota, Laura Ingalls Wilder - Ingalls Homestead site

We drove from Brookings, South Dakota, west to De Smet at 8:30am.  And this is what we drove through!  There has been a lot of flooding this year - it felt like home, except for the snow....

And we are really here!  On the actual land where Pa built the claim shanty!  The hill here, is the hill behind the house where Laura and Mary walked at sunset.  The home was to the left where a monument has been placed.

This is the site of Pa's claim shanty.  YES, it really was this cold!  Our faces were tingling and we ran from exhibit to exhibit to keep warm.  It sure gave us an appreciation of what life was like for Laura on those cold, cold days when Pa sang the sunflower song and shoveled snow off the beds before the girls got up...

Under one of the cotton woods that Pa transplanted from the one tree in the area on the bank of Silver Lake. We came back after buying Briony-Anne this beautiful Laura dress and the boys' coon skins caps! The weather had improved a little.  You can see the home site (monument) and the hill behind the cottonwoods.

North Through Nebraska

Nebraska has a lot of these sand hills It is not the greatest shot , but on some of them you can see the sand where all the grass is gone and erosion is taking  place.  

Feeling we could see more of the  land if we stayed off the interstate, we disobeyed  the GPS and  went  mud bashing.  It was great fun and we did not have to back track a whole lot.  We were glad we had four wheel drive!  There was a lot of ice, snow and wind outside, but the car stays nice and warm.

While off the high way, we went through many small towns. This is Mills  where Mrs. Regier grew up on a near by farm.  The funny thing is that no matter how tiny or colossal any town is they always give the population in very precise numbers; such as 12 and 17,563.  The first example is factual.

License plates of USA

Lachlan is making a collection of photos of the license plates from the different states - so far he has 30 different states!! Here are just a few we think are most interesting....

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Saturday, April 16th, 2011 Shopping USA

First to the AAA - RACV equivalent - to sign up for roadside assist and get travel advice.  We've got Thurs and Fri off next week - that makes four days to travel a little further afield. So, we're off to South Dakota to Mount Rushmore and DeSmet - that's Laura Ingalls Wilder territory!
Then, back to Barnes and Noble - everybody found at least one treasure they HAVE to have!  I'm glad I joined up for their book club with discounts.
Next, dress shopping for the Ha girls - at least E and BA went to Seares and Penny's - the boys stayed in the car to read their new books.  What fun we had!!  All the pretty long dresses were on sale so we bought everyone we liked in a variety of sizes for Zoe, plus special matching dresses for Zoe, Faith and Charity - no photos so we can see their faces when they unwrap them come September!  We can't wait.
Leong had asked us to look out for these and it was such fun!  If you have a special request from the land of Aus, let us know.....

Finally to Costco for a hot dog and drink and......Camping gear!  They had some great brands on super specials so we came out with our CART (not trolley) loaded with apples, oranges etc plus a ten man tent, self inflating airbeds, an LED lantern and 7 sleeping bags - all on  the grocery budget!

Under $500!!

Did we mention that everything here comes in BIG packages?

We were all excited about these packets of muffins for $6.36 total.  They were yummy, too!

We're also collecting plaques about our No. 1 Dad.

The bubble says 'sensible portions'! But the packet is as large as my torso!

We will not be camping this week though as it is still snowy in South Dakota....

Let's play ZOO

Friday evening pizza party with the McGuffys!  This is becoming a very nice tradition.  Thanks, guys :)
Good friends trying to get their heads around 'Let's Play Zoo' - with Aussie animals!

After insisting on being the horse all evening, Karston is trying out the owl.

10 points for concentration, Kaleb!

Is that a moose? Or a rabbit? Or a .....

First week of internship!

Our first week as CFTH (Caring for the Heart) interns!  Wow - we have a lot to learn.  And we are sure we are in the right place to do so.  Thank you John for the opportunity.
The interns room with Henry and Helena from Mexico, Eric and Susannah from Maine, Ed and ElizaBeth.

Tony pretending to be hard at work while the rest of us relax!

Erice and Susannah with John Regier in the background.

We are attempting to write up our notes each day so we can go home and just spend time with the children.

Thursday morning the mountains looked so beautiful with a new dusting of snow.

Henry and Helena came for the morning and lunch on Thursday.  We had a lovely time of fellowship and learned HEAPS about Mexico and the Menonite history and culture.
It was  great to be with you both.  God bless you.

Monday, April 11th Royal Gorge with Ada Marie and Kathryn

1000ft straight down to the Arkansas River.

Travelling down, down, down in the world's steepest incline railway.  It took five minutes to travel to the bottom where the Arkansas River provides excellent white water rafting experience - we didn't try it out this time!

Next we traveled across the gorge in the aerial tram.  E was a little scared - just a little.....
Lachlan checked out the accommodation at the settlement's jail!  In the summer there is a Sovereign Hill type township on the far side of the gorge with costumed shop assistants, etc.
Kathryn, far right, supplied the suckers and Ada Marie, far left, the ideas for a crazy, fun-filled day (with a few dares and scares!)  Thank you for a great day, girls.
Crossing the bridge over the gorge.  That was quite a walk with incredible views!
Briony-Anne was our official photographer.  Thanks, Princess.

In the evening we continued the fun over a game of spoons and some tea.

Sunday, April 10th Lunch with the Harmons

To church.  Eric Hall preached again - great!  
Then we went to lunch at the Harmon's - they have 8 children and older boys that our boys have enjoyed making friends with.  Also at lunch were the Fitzlers, Halls, Miss Sally and the Beades.  There were 30 people in one small home and lots of laughter and encouragement.  Everyone held hands to say grace and sang a verse of a hymn first - sounds like a good idea!
Bryce and Hamish especially enjoyed playing basketball with Tommy and William Harmon.

Saturday, April 9th A date for E and L

Lachy and I ventured out on our own to do the grocery shopping - Lachlan helping me stay on the correct side of the road!  We went to Barnes and Noble booksellers - like Borders but heaps bigger.  We found field guides of North American birds, mammals, trees and wildflowers all at ridiculously low prices - for Australia!
Then to Costco for groceries of the bulk kind.  One day I'll get used to it all.
We got a hot dog and a refillable drink for $1.50 total!
The guy serving L asked where he was from - Australia - 'That explains it,' he said, 'you have manners and style' - so Lachlan has manners and style!!!
Evening and skype calls home - it was sooooo good to speak with you!

Friday April 8th McGuffys -- neighbours and new friends!

When we got home we had a BBQ with the McGuffys, our neighbours two doors down.  They are Christians, homeschoolers, have 5 children - 4 boys and 1 girl, Kelsey, who just happens to be 11 - a special friend for Briony-Anne.  They had prepared real American hot dogs with all the toppings - Yummy!
After dinner we all played pictionary and laughed a lot, then had Bible time together - Ha-Pearse style!
It was a great night.

Friday April 8th Time to say goodbye...

Friday afternoon and time to say goodbye to all our new friends at the Caring for the Heart intensive training week.  We have invitations to visit friends all over the country!  We'll plan to see as many as we can - thanks guys.  We are pleased that Henry and Helena from Mexico and Eric and Susanna from Maine will be here next week for the internship.
When John had finished the teaching sessions, we all stood in a circle and held hands and prayed for one another - it was beautiful and went on and on.  The Chad presented John with a card we had all signed and a gift - to be spent by John connecting with his wife, Barb!
There were lots of hugs and tears as we said goodbye.  And lots of smiles and invitations.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Wednesday, April 6th Movie stars!

Today Caring for the Heart asked if all the students would be willing to be filmed for a new promotional DVD - so of course we said yes.  Then Gary Damron asked Tony and ElizaBeth to be filmed
-exiting our car
-entering the building
-being greeted by Cindy
-waiting for our 'appointment'
-being counselled by John
-being viewed by interns
-having morning tea with our new friends from Phoenix, Chad and Kristin (HI GUYS!)
and I think that's all!
We certainly are getting more than we bargained for from this trip.

It was so fun!  We had to do the same things 3 or 4 times over while being filmed from different angles. We laughed so much!  Everyone else wondered what we were doing since they were still receiving training.

An unexpected result of all this, was that John asked us to be counseled in front of the group that afternoon!  We said yes, but I don't know why!!  We were very nervous - is that strong enough language?  But it went very well and was a wonderful blessing.  John was able to help us clear up one issue for ElizaBeth and help Tony be confident to care for her in that area.  Since then, E can't stop smiling and giggling.........

The children 'back at the ranch' or Ranger's Station were getting a little bored in the afternoons as they didn't have any outdoor equipment.  So Tony took them 'Christmas shopping' to Walmart at 9pm.  They came home with a soccer ball, croquet set, frisbee and BB gun - that's a small air rifle!!  When in Rome, you know.....  It seemed very strange to walk out of the store with a gun in the cart along with the groceries, no ID, no licence, no questions - and it only cost $24.