In my favorite poem by Robert Frost, Nothing Gold Can Stay, he reminds us that like the seasons of nature, life is one season melting into another, and quickly fading away. This is my attempt to document each season in my life and my family.

The Freedom Tour – Going Home

Filed under: Freedom Tour,Photos,Road Trips,Trips — Rachel at 10:25 am on Thursday, August 4, 2011

And so our stay in Texas was over…

We traveled from Dumas, TX to Springfield, MO on the first day of the return trip. It was a mostly uneventful day, but we did have a delightful highlight just before we stopped for the night at our hotel.

Andy’s Frozen Custard! A Springfield tradition.

(Owen was asleep in the van. He wouldn’t wake up. Not even for Andy’s.)

The next morning, we began our final leg of the shared journey…from Springfield, MO to Fort Knox, KY. (The kids and I spent another night with Amy before we drove our final four hours from Fort Knox to Harriman, TN.)

We went through St Louis, and saw the Gateway Arch that we had visited on our road trip from the previous year.

It’s always exciting to cross the Mississippi River, no matter which direction we are headed.

We snapped a quick picture of another state sign. There is always lots of clapping and cheering each time we cross into a new state.

After this point, we were too tired and sick of each other’s company to chronicle anything else from the trip. We dragged our tired, sore, travel-worn bodies onto Fort Knox that evening, and bid a fond farewell to The Freedom Tour – Summer Road Trip of 2011.

The Freedom Tour: How to Have Fun in Dumas, Texas

Filed under: Freedom Tour,Photos,Road Trips,Trips — Rachel at 9:28 pm on Wednesday, August 3, 2011

This post is LONG overdue, but, as promised, I am returning to tell you about the last day of the Texas portion of our Road Trip. Amy was with her family at the hospital for her little sister, Julie’s, surgery. Since Amy was at the hospital, I was on my own with all six of our kids in a town I wasn’t super familiar with. So, we decided to find out how to have fun in Dumas, Texas.

First of all, you go to Pizza Hut.

After going to Pizza Hut and getting your belly full, you can go geocaching. There are several to be found in and around Dumas. One of them will lead you to a delightful park, where you will find this awesome plane.

There are lots of other fun things at that park, too.

Some dangerous things:

And since it’s a bajillion degrees in Dumas, Texas, ¬†you should end your adventure with sno-cones from this fabulous little sno-cone shop.

I suggest the Cherry Cream Cheese flavor. It’s delicious!

And that, my friends, is how to have fun in Dumas, Texas!

There is one more post coming in this Road Trip series. Coming soon!

The Freedom Tour – Days 6-12

Filed under: Abby Jo,Elijah,Family,Freedom Tour,Friends,Kids,Kyra,Owen,Photos,Road Trips,Trips — Rachel at 1:27 am on Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Dumas, Texas. What can I say about Dumas, Texas?

Dumas, Texas is a little town in the panhandle of Texas. Driving down Dumas Avenue is a little like visiting the United Nations. Somehow or another, Dumas, Texas has become the recipient of a number of refugees from places like Somalia and Burma. Along with that unusual addition to their small Texas town, Dumas is also home to it’s fair share of cowboys, rednecks, and teenage girls in pajama pants. They have a great Oriental Supermarket where you can get chicken and sticky rice, and a fabulous snow cone place that is open till ten p.m. Do you know about Texas snow cones? They are very different than what I’ve had in Tennessee. Far superior. Dumas has a fantastic park to visit with your kids, but, alas, none of the water fountains work. This is a real bummer when it’s a hundred degrees outside. However, if you have a more adventurous mother than my kids had, Dumas has a nice little waterpark next door where you can cool off.

Snow cones or waterparks or a backyard sprinkler, take your pick, but you’re going to have to cool off somehow. I wasn’t kidding about the one hundred degrees.

We spent most of our time in Dumas hanging around Amy’s parents house. Visits from Amy’s sisters, Jami Leigh and Julie, were the highlights of our days. Abby warmed up to Jami pretty quickly. I think it might have had something to do with Jami having the same face as her Aunt Amy.

As I mentioned before, one of the best ways for the kiddos to cool off in the Texas heat was by playing in the sprinkler.
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Over the weekend that we were there, we all loaded up and drove to Lavern, Oklahoma. The kids all wore there tie-dyed shirts that Jami helped them make.
Here are the boys in the “boy van”.And the three big girls in the “girl van”.

From left to right: Ethan, Miah, Joshua, Jeremiah, Elijah, Owen, Kaleb, Sarah, Charleigh, Emileigh, Abby Jo, and Kyra

The evening that we arrived, we checked into our (surprisingly nice) motel rooms, and then went to a small family get together. The next morning, which was the day before Memorial Day, we went to several cemeteries to place flowers on the graves of some of their family members. It was pretty sad at times, because this family had lost three children. A sixteen year old, a fourteen year old, and a baby. Watching their parents decorate their graves made me hold my babies a little closer. While at one of the cemeteries, I snapped a couple of pictures of the Oklahoma scenery.

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Later in the afternoon, we went to Amy’s great aunt’s house for a bbq dinner. The food was fantastic. Seriously, it was so good.

We went back home that evening, and started getting ready for the festivities of the coming day…Julie’s thirtieth birthday party.

Julie’s birthday was one of two important reasons that Amy was making the long trek to Texas. She really wanted to attend her baby sister’s birthday party. The other reason that two days after the party, Julie was having brain surgery. For that reason, everyone really wanted Julie to have a fantastic birthday. She had a great party, and I enjoyed getting to know some of the characters in Amy’s stories.

This is a picture of me and Julie. I’m glad we like each other. As the next picture indicates, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Julie and I could share grandkids some day.

This is, of course, my son, Owen, and the little girl is Julie’s daughter, Miah. They first met last year when the kids and I went with Amy to Dumas the first time. Apparently, they still have their spark. (I LOVE this picture!)

Amy Jo and I before Julie’s party.

Me and my Kyra Joy at the party.

Amy Jo, Jami Leigh, Amy G., me, and Janae….Jami said it was a picture with all of their mom’s adopted daughters.

The day after the party was very low key. We mostly just sat around the house relaxing. Here are some random pictures I thought I would share:

Abby Jo and Emmy-Kai-Kai, as she calls her. They were pretty good friends.

Kyra Joy and Jami’s daughter, Charleigh. They were delighted that everyone agreed that they could pass for sisters.

We were using our hands to block the sun. Jami was trying to take our picture, but the sunlight behind us was too bright. Turns out, I LOVE this picture of us. It’s so happy!

Me and my Elijah

Love it!



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The heat was getting to us.

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Our trip was drawing to a close, but, before we headed home, we had one day left. The day of Julie’s surgery. Amy Jo was going to go to Amarillo with her family for the surgery, and I was staying at her parents house with the kids. We had too full of a day to include it in this already too long post. So, until next time…

The Freedom Tour – Days 2 & 3

Filed under: Freedom Tour,Road Trips,Trips — Rachel at 10:23 pm on Sunday, May 22, 2011

Days two and three of The Freedom Tour may not make for very exciting blogging, but I have thoroughly enjoyed them.

I’ve been at Amy’s house for two days, and I’ve done a whole lot of nothing. Really. I’m trying to think of what we’ve done so that I can dutifully report, but I’m drawing a big blank. I know that we’ve ate at least three times a day, I read most of “The Bell Jar” since I got here and finished it today, and we’ve listened to a lot of music. We watched a little tv, and did some laundry. The kids have played outside, rode bicycles around the neighborhood, and spent way too much time playing “Rise of Nations” on the computer. Abby Jo has watched about a hundred episodes of “Dora the Explorer”. Earlier today, she said, “Hola, Mamie!” to Amy. So, maybe by tomorrow she’ll be bilingual.

Since we’ve not done anything worth blogging about, I don’t have any pictures, either. Except for this one:

We are leaving in the morning for Springfield, Missouri. We were going to take a different route through Memphis and Little Rock (leaving from TN instead of KY), but the flooding they were having made us decide to go the same route as last year. After crazy tornadoes in Joplin, Missouri today, though, we altered our route again to avoid the devastation by going slightly south of Joplin. (Our prayers are with all of the people of Joplin.)

The Freedom Tour – Road Trip 2011

Filed under: Road Trips — Rachel at 10:40 pm on Friday, May 20, 2011

And so it begins…

My first endeavor as a newly graduated free woman is to travel half way across the country in a van with six children ten and under and my best friend, Amy Jo. Just like last year (you may remember me blogging about mentioning the Insanity Tour of 2010), we are traveling to Dumas, Texas to visit Amy’s family. I’d say I’m tagging along, but I think I’ll be doing most of the driving. I’m slowly but surely weaseling my way into Amy’s family. What? They need a fourth sister. Besides, her Mama loves me. She told me so.

Anyway, today was my first leg of the journey. The kids and I traveled from our house to Amy’s house in Fort Knox, KY. It wasn’t really anything exciting, but I have the following picture to commemorate it.

Me and my dimple, squinting into the sun at the TN/KY border.

You now have two options. You can either pretend that this is a fabulous picture in which I look really great and my hair and makeup are actually done, OR you can think, “Wow. You know what? Rachel really deserves a vacation!”

Nothing very interesting happened on the first leg of the trip. I did run over a snake, though. I gunned the gas so that I would be sure to hit it, and I may or may not have muttered, “Under my heel, you slimy devil!” while I did it.

Elijah got carsick, but he didn’t throw up. For that, I was very grateful. We stopped in Tompkinsville at a McDonalds for a bathroom break and four Happy Meals. While we waited, an old guy asked me if the kids were all mine. Used to this question, I just smiled and said, “Yes, sir!” He grinned and winked and said, “You’ve been busy!” It’s always nice to have old guys give your sex life a nod. It makes me feel accomplished and noticed.

I rolled into Fort Knox at about seven in the evening, and I’m looking forward to a couple days rest before heading to Texas. My body is unwilling to drive long distances at this point in time. After days of ripping up floors, painting ceilings and walls, and being on my feet all day…not to mention one of my feet being nail-pierced…I just want to relax. (For those of you who don’t know, we are remodeling our living room and kitchen right now.) So, for now, we’re chillin’ in the blue grass, and we’re planning on leaving here in a couple of days. We will drive to Springfield, Missouri, spend the night there, and then travel on to Texas the next day.

With that, Day 1 of The Freedom Tour is in the books. Goodnight and God bless!