Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Long Weekend.

A couple weeks ago, only two weeks in to our time here, Husby had to up and abandon me for almost five days!  Ugh!  It was torture.  He had an event to work out of town and we were left here alone, so we set out to make the most of it.

We did things like go to Chuck E Cheese, the movies (Planes: Fire & Rescue), we went to the lake and out to eat at some of our favorites.  But one day we set out for adventure.  Just me and my babies.

We went to a local farm to pick berries and when I got there I asked what I needed to do to pick.

"Do you want to pick strawberries or corn?", the lady asked.

"Strawberries."

"We don't have strawberries ready."

*Crickets.  Crickets.*

"Okay thanks, catch ya later!"

I mean, what on earth?!

From there I googled the best place to pick berries.  And next thing you know I was in No Mans Land, NY.  To this day I still don't know where we were.  But boy did we find us a marvelous little blueberry farm!  It was so charming and the couple who ran it were wonderful.  We had such a good time and the weather was gorgeous - we could have stayed all day!

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I reiterated to the boys to pick the biggest and bluest berries to find, and to leave the little green ones on the bushes.  Levi picked a whole bucket full of the prettiest berries there.  And Ezra?  Well, he picked a lot of green ones.

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And they both ate the fresh berries along the way - claiming that they were the best blueberries they had ever tasted!

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After we finished up, we checked out a local ski resort and then stopped for ice cream.  At a desolate, lone, store that sold pizza, ice cream, and homemade fudge.  I ordered us three hot fudge sundaes and  we waited.

It was taking an unusually long time so I peeked behind the counter to check things out.  I saw this girl microwaving something and attempting to stir it with her spoon.  It looked like mud ... but not runny mud.  Thick, ugly, chunky mud.

And next thing you know, our sundaes were ready! ....

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Oh my gracious sakes, you guys.  I can't even explain it.  It was CHEWY and tasted like Baker's chocolate.  It was a disaster.  We trashed them and headed home!

Actually, we headed to the beach and the terrible hot fudge sundaes were long forgotten. :)

A beautiful day with my beautiful babies!

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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Initial Observations.

Well folks, we have been in PA for a month now (WOW!), and I just wanted to write about my initial observations about this foreign land.  It is so funny how crossing 5 state lines can bring about such a different way of life.  Okay, so things aren't THAT different, but my Okie ways are imbedded into my bloodstream, so any little difference is a big difference!  And the further north you travel, my how things change.  I think I've murmured, "Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore" 72 times over the past month.  Haha!

* The biggest difference I have noticed is overall friendliness.  Now don't get me wrong, people are nice enough, but I come from Oklahoma.  Where people are chatty.  And super friendly.

I was wandering around somewhere in New York the other day and needed directions.  I was literally in no mans land and I saw a man standing outside his little eatery, and I stopped to ask him which way to go.

"That way. You'll see a sign."

"So, do I just keep going down this road?  How far?  Is there more than one sign?  Is it big? Will I miss it?"

"Nope.  You'll see a sign.  That way."

"How far?"

"About a mile."

Nice enough.  But not what I'm used to.  In Oklahoma it would go a little something like this,

"Yeaaaahh! When you pull out of here turn left and go down the road a little ways until you pass the big red barn.  When you see the barn you are almost there.  It's a beautiful barn - my cousin owns it.  Stop by there if you get a chance, they sell the best blueberry preserves there.  Tell them Ralph sent ya and maybe you'll get a complimentary loaf of homemade bread!  It's a 87 year old recipe - can't be beat!  But yes, there are signs that you can't miss - there might actually be a couple.  Just keep going down this road and in about a mile and a half you'll be there.  Here.  Actually, let me just jump in my truck and drive down and show you.  Follow me!"

Hahaha!  No, but seriously ... that is the type of stuff I'm used to.

Also, my very friendly 5 year old is having a hard time getting through to the cashiers around here.  He chats them up at every store and tells them where we are from and that we are new to town and we get blank stares almost every time.  And then they look at me like, "why is your kid talking to me?" Oh, it infuriates me.  Please just answer my child.  He's a conversationalist, never met a stranger, and he just wants to talk!

The other day we were checking out a Target and Levi strikes up a conversation.  Much to my surprise, the lady starts talking his leg off, telling him stories, listening to his, and engaging my precious son!  Oh, I was so happy!  And shocked! Then he proceeded to tell her we were from Oklahoma and she nearly had a heart attack, telling us she was from Lawton, Oklahoma.  And then it all made sense.  :)

So yeah, the people are nice.  They're just not real FRIENDLY.  There's a difference!

* STYROFOAM CUPS.

Heaven help me, I can't find a styrofoam cup to save my life.

I need a Route 44 unsweet ice tea from Sonic in THE WORST way, and there is no substitute around here.  And all the cups are plastic.  And plastic sweats.  I can't even handle it.  I finally found one the other day in a gas station when I drove by and saw a sign for the styrofoam cups.  I whipped in there as fast as I could.  The sign read "Polar Pop! Stays cold longer!"  It's as if styrofoam is a new and novel concept here and I just can't understand.  I mean, what's going on?!

* Tex Mex.

There is none.  There are a couple good authentic mexican restaurants in town which I'm happy to have, but sometimes I just need me some good old fashioned Tex Mex.  With yellow queso.  *sigh*

Oh, and my dad ordered a side of queso at Taco Bell when he was here and they legitimately did NOT know what he meant.  They had never heard of it.  Where am I???

* Not every place has brewed tea.  I can't grasp this concept either.  "We have tea, but it's not the brewed tea.  And it's flavored and sweet."  Um.... I'm in the North!  Tea should NEVER be sweet here!

Clearly, I have tea issues.

* There are donuts everywhere.  Krispy Kreme, Dunkin Donuts, Tim Hortons ... it's seriously a donut haven.

* The churches don't have Sunday School!  Every church we have visited or found online - doesn't have Sunday School.  Again, I don't get it.  The church we found offers Bible study groups in the morning before worship, so at least there's that.  But hmmm.... I do not want Sunday School to become a thing of the past!  Up here it seems to be.  Also, it's 85% Catholic here.  Protestant churches are few and far between.  Toto, we're not in the Bible Belt anymore.

* The speed limits are SLOW.  They are about to increase the limit to 70 on two stretches of highway up here and everyone is up in ARMS about it.  Most highway limits are between 55 and 65 here.  Nothing more.  I'm used to getting on an interstate and going no less than 75 so this is weird for me.

So, you guys, these are the biggest differences that have stuck out at me so far.  I think I'll spend my energy this year bringing brewed tea in styrofoam, yellow queso, Sunday School, faster speed limits, and conversation between strangers to this place.  Ready, set, OKIFY! :)


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Niagara Falls!

The last full day that my parents were here we headed over to Buffalo, New York and spent the day at Niagara Falls.  It was so much fun!  We had a blast and got absolutely SOAKING wet.  I mean, we were drenched from our head to our toes!

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We got wet on the Maid of the Mist boat ride that we took down by the falls, but when we got off, we trekked up the side of the cliff to stand super close to the falls.  And we got drenched.  I mean, we were being pelted so hard by those falls that it was like we were walking through a tsunami. So fun!  We had to buy sweatshirts to warm up afterwards.  We were freezing!

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It's still surreal to me that we are this close to all of these amazing sights.  Wow.

I had been to the falls when I was around 9 or 10, so it was super neat to go back as an adult and bring our boys.  They absolutely loved it!  It's the best watching them see new things and places ... which they'll be doing plenty of this year! :)

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Levi was enamored with all the stories of the people who have gone over the falls in barrels and whatnot.  We watched a film on the falls and it's history while we were there and both boys were captivated!  Especially when it talked about all the people who have gone over.  Crazy!

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I don't think I could ever tire of this sight.  Absolutely incredible!

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It was such a wonderful day full of awesome memories!!!

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Here's to adventure!!







Thursday, July 17, 2014

July 4th.

We worked ourselves to deaths the week we arrived getting unpacked and everything in it's place.  Our townhouse is 3 stories - LOTS OF STAIRS - and we were so sore we could barely walk in the mornings!  We took July 4th as a day to go check out the beaches at Presque Isle, relax, and take in the sights.  We were absolutely blown away by Lake Erie.  It is so very gorgeous!

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The boys fell in love instantly and we have gone out there as often as we can since.  It's wonderful.  And literally 3 miles from our house.  Insane!

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It was very cool and breezy that day and I had to get down in the sand to warm up! :)

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We had such a blast!  It was a wonderful first introduction to our Great Lake!

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Even when the waves crashed into our sand castle.

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I'm so happy my parents were able to come along and check out the town for the first time with us.  We explored, tried out new restaurants, grocery stores ... I mean, come on.  When you move to a new town the first priority is food.  :)

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This was definitely a fourth of July to remember.

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Monday, July 14, 2014

The Drive.

My ever so gracious parents packed up and took the two day journey up north with us!  Having the help on the drive was tremendous - my mom and I took the boys in our car, and Husby and my dad took the other.  Mom was an amazing distraction to the kidlings, and made the 18 hours in the car nothing short of a cool breeze!

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My husband's parents moved to another state the day after we moved.  We met them early in the morning at the donut shop the day that we left for a farewell breakfast with them and Husby's grandparents.  It was good to see everyone before we left.

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The day we left was also our 9 year anniversary!  What a way to start off Year 10 - the biggest adventure yet!

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We drove 10 hours that day and stopped in Indianapolis for some sleep.  It was almost midnight and Dad bought my little family a suite so that we could put the kids in another room and not wake them up.  When we walked into the room the "suite" was a basic hotel room with a giant whirpool tub in the middle of it.  One King sized bed for the four of us and one giant tub.  We laughed, and called down for a rollaway bed for the kids so that we could get those tired babies in bed!  They were so exhausted we laid them in the bed until the rollaway came and we laid down beside them.

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And the next thing we knew it was morning and we had all slept together in one bed.  Haha!  We were all so exhausted I don't think any of us moved a muscle, but my Dad ended up getting a discount on that room!

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We had breakfast at a local joint called Blueberry Hill and it was the most amazing breakfast of life.  Then we drove through the entire state of Ohio and finally hit Pennsylvania.

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Once we hit PA, we saw the most beautiful rainbow and we literally drove right under it.  Such a sweet reminder of God's promises in our lives and in the lives of those who know Him.  It was perfect.

We trekked on as quickly as we could straight to Erie.  We didn't want to roll in late, so we pushed through it and arrived around 6pm.  I've never been to Erie before coming here to live, so everything was going to be a complete surprise for me - from the look of the town to the look of our home.  We found something online and blindly rented it, hoping and praying for something nice and in a good part of town.

We couldn't get the key to our townhouse until the next day, so Dad and Husby booked a hotel room here in town.  When we hit town and took the road to our house, my jaw dropped.  It was the most beautiful road covered in the most thick and gorgeous trees ... it reminded me of Victoria, B.C.  Quaint and beautiful and so, so lush with greenery!

I started to get nervous.  We were almost to the house.

From the pictures I could see online, the "backyard" to the townhouses consisted of a tiny little concrete slab.  Coming from such a big and pretty backyard in Oklahoma, this was such a huge concern for me with my boys!  If they can't play outside, they are going to go stir crazy.  I had already scouted out nearby parks because I feared the worst.  I also started researching sand boxes, because I wanted them to have something to do on that little slab!

We continued down the windy road and finally pulled into our house.  There are 12 townhouses in our addition and wouldn't you know ... ours is positioned in the very back corner and is the ONLY one with ANY TYPE OF YARD.  And it's gorgeous!!!  There are trees everywhere, a creek running through below, and even a slope that the boys can sled down in the winter.  I am telling you, every single other house has a concrete slab and that is it.  Some even back up to a busy ROAD (oh my, another huge fear I had!), and ours has a yard!  A YARD!

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(The side of our yard)

I was screaming when I saw it.  The boys were running through it as fast as they could, and Husby, my parents and me started snapping pictures of everything.  We were ALL blown AWAY!  I am telling you, God cares about the teeniest, tiniest details.  Oh, my heart was overjoyed!

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(The slope!)

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(Mom and the boys checking out the creek!)

We finished up checking out the house and then headed for supper and a good nights rest before unloading the moving truck the next day.  When we got to the hotel the lady told my Dad that they had run out of King rooms and that we would be upgraded to the Presidential Suite.

Um.  Okay.

They gave us the room because of the kids, and I am not even kidding you, it was THREE hotel rooms!!!!  It was the biggest thing I had ever seen in my life and the kids were running through that place like they were in a castle!  We died laughing because of the room we had the night before compared to this one.  It was almost the size of our new townhouse!  Haha!  Oh, what fun!  It had a giant whirlpool tub too, two bathrooms, two King sized beds, one Full sized bed, a full kitchen, and 3 TV's.  It was nuts.  NUTS!  The boys had a blast and we ran around eating Dunkin' Donuts and living the good life.

Oh, this trip was one that I will remember always.  We laughed so hard we cried, and we cried so hard we laughed.  My parents stayed for a week to help us unpack and settle and we explored and had some awesome adventures of our own.

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Stay tuned for more!



Sunday, July 13, 2014

Hello, from PA!

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The journey was a long one, but we are here, settled, and exploring every chance we get!  I have 101 things to update you guys on, but I'll take it one post at a time.  So much has happened in the last couple of weeks!

God has been moving in working in our lives in ways that simply bring me to my knees in awe and thanksgiving.  The love and provision He has poured out on us in this time is incredible.  From the biggest of needs, to the smallest - they've been met.  To HIM Who is able to do abundantly and exceedingly more than we could ever ask or imagine.  I could not survive this life without Him!

Our last day of church in Tulsa, two days before we moved, we sang Everlasting God.  I wasn't real familiar with the song before we sang it, but it has been on my lips and in my heart ever since.  There hasn't been a day go by since moving that I haven't sang it out in praise.  I've claimed it as my song for the year and I can't sing it without crying ... every single time.

When we were standing in church singing, Levi was standing in front of me and I had my hands on his little shoulders.

"Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord, we will wait upon the Lord, we will wait upon the Lord."

The week had been exhausting.  We'd been packing and moving and getting our house sparkly clean every second of the previous days and we were physically and emotionally exhausted.

"You are the everlasting God, the everlasting God, You do not faint, You won't grow weary."

We continued to sing, and I felt Levi's little shoulders start shaking.  I looked down at him and he looked up at me and cried, "I don't want to leave my church".

"You're the defender of the weak, You comfort those in need," we continued to sing.

I sat on the pew and hugged my little son, comforting him as best as I could - knowing God was holding him even tighter.  And holding me, too.

"You lift us up on the wings like eagles.
Our God, You reign forever.
Our hope, our strong deliverer."

How great the promises of our God.  As I sat there emotionally drained on every level, I wanted to cry and say "I give up.  I don't want to do it either.  Just let us stay.  Don't make my kids leave everything and everyone they've ever known.  We love it here.  Just let us stay."  And God whispered to me - trust Me. I will lift you up, give you comfort, deliver you.  Trust Me.  These words, this song ... it's for YOU.

Peace overwhelmed my body.

I could feel my faith increase at that very moment.

Peace.

...

The next day, the day before we pulled out of the drive and headed North, our realtor called.  Our house SOLD.

"Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord."

Two days later when we arrived to our townhouse, the very thing I had worried myself sick about before getting here was sovereignly gone before and taken care of.

"You lift us up on the wings like eagles."

My faith has grown leaps and bounds as God continues to show Himself faithful to my family and me. I can not even describe how incredible His ways are, how He proves it time and again, and I can't wait to tell of His goodness as He holds us and keeps us throughout this year.

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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Well friends, we are here and settled in our home up north.  So much has happened in the past couple of weeks that I can't wait to let you all in on when I have more time.  I want to thank you guys for keeping us in your prayers as we made and continue to make this transition and I am eager to keep you up to date on our adventures!  :) 

I'll write soon! 
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