Saturday, July 26, 2014

Williamsburg, VA

After we dropped Ben off at his summer job, we headed over to Williamsburg where we got to meet up with two sets of friends.
We stayed with one set of friends we had known in Hawaii.  Katie was good friends with their daughters and we had lived just a couple of block from each other.  

Why I did not get pictures of the girls together, I will never know!  I stunk at taking pictures on this trip!

Then we met up with another family we had been friends with in Hawaii.  We had all attended church together and have kept in touch now that we are all back on the mainland.

We spent a day with them at Williamsburg.

The governor's mansion was really cool.  Swords as decoration in the hallway - fairly intimidating in colonial times.

Nifty bedding in the mansion.

Child's bedding.

Again, I don't know what was wrong with my camera skills on this trip.  Usually I take pictures of everything.

My favorite things at Williamsburg were the Apothecary and the Wig Maker.  

We enjoyed lots of interesting things there, but I neglected to document it, and the ol' memory isn't what it used to be!

Friday, July 25, 2014


Almost forgot to mention that we took a ferry on our way to Williamsburg.  

 I can't remember the last time we actually rode a ferry.  The girls didn't remember ever being on one.

The ride was long enough that we were able to get out of the car and walk around a bit.  We could see Williamsburg and Jamestown, maybe.  We think. 

It was quite windy.

Oddly enough, having never been on a ferry in their memories, the girls and I have actually been on another ferry since we've returned to Illinois!

Lee's Chicken

When I was planning the Big Fat Trip, I told everyone that we needed to cut costs by not eating out as much.  Unfortunately, I've found on past trips that if I take sandwiches, no one actually eats them.  The sight of sandwich fixin's just can't compare with the sight of a fast food sign.

So on this trip, I packed drinks, fruit, and chips and told everyone we could buy hamburgers or chicken sandwiches but we would not be ordering fries or drinks.

Well, as it just so happened at one point, just as we were getting hungry for lunch, we spotted a Lee's Fried Chicken up ahead.  Lee's really has excellent chicken and fabulous biscuits.  We quickly decided that we would stop and grab chicken although I reminded everyone that we would only buy chicken as we had drinks and sides in the car.

The girls waited in the car while Kerry and I went inside.  Kerry placed our order while I availed myself of the restroom.

When we got back out to the car, Kerry pulled out a box of chicken and then a smaller styrofoam container while announcing, "I know we said we were only going to get chicken, but I got a surprise for everyone!"

The girls gleefully screamed, "Biscuits!"  

"Nope!"  Kerry told them happily.  "Livers and gizzards!"

We all thought he was teasing us.  He's known me for thirty years and he's known the girls since the day they were born.  Surely, he's aware that we have never, ever, ever, not once, requested to eat chicken livers or gizzards.

No, he was not kidding.

He was disgruntled that they wouldn't even try one.

They were disgruntled for other reasons.

Thursday, July 24, 2014


Of course, the most exciting part of our trip to Busch Gardens was that Ben proposed to Noelle!

They are officially engaged!

Having only been proposed to, never having been the one doing the proposing, it was quite an adventure to see it all unfold behind the scenes, as it were.

When Kerry proposed to me, I had absolutely no clue that it was in the works so I was unaware of all the build-up and the ring search and the planning that goes into this one pivotal moment.

Ben had contacted us a couple of months earlier to let us know he wanted to go ahead and propose.  They had already been dating three years and had planned to wait one more year to get engaged, but Noelle's father had indicated that he would approve of them getting engaged sooner and Ben needed no further urging.

He was looking at rings on line, and sent me pictures of what sort of ring he was looking for.  I urged him to wait until he could see the rings in person.  Things look a lot larger on line and can be very disappointing in reality.

When Ben's semester ended and he was home, I took him ring shopping.  We were in one store when he spotted THE ring.  We left so he would have time to think about it.  I offered to take him to other stores to see if he saw anything else he liked but he said he was absolutely sure that was THE one and we went back to the first store and he purchased it.

He and Noelle are working together at a Christian camp for kids and his plan was to propose at camp.  When they were sparking on each other in Hawaii, they had a special bench that they would sit on while they talked.  Ben's plan was to scout out a bench at the camp and propose to Noelle there.

However, as part of our Big Fat Trip, we planned to go to Busch Gardens, Williamsburg for a day.  We found out just a couple of days beforehand that Noelle would only be an hour away, so we made arrangements for her to join us.  It was the first time they had seen each other in a few months, being at colleges in different states as they are.

Well now, Ben didn't want to leave the ring in his suitcase or in the car for fear of it getting stolen so he was carrying it around in the side pocket of his shorts for three days.  Once he realized he was going to see Noelle for a whole day before he left for camp, that ring just started burning a hole in his pocket.  He told us the night before that he was going to propose at Busch Gardens.  He just needed to find a bench and he wanted it to be in a spot where a lot of people wouldn't be staring at them.

Well, a bench in a theme park with not a lot of people nearby on a Saturday is pretty hard to come by.

All day long as we walked around and rode rides, I would see beautiful gardens with flowers all around and I would say, "Oh look, isn't that a beautiful area right over there."

But of course there were lots of people around.  

Ben and Noelle decided to go off by themselves for a couple of hours and we expected at any moment to get a text saying that they were engaged but.....nope.  We finally got a text asking where we wanted to meet up.  I warned Kerry and the girls, "Do NOT look at her hand when we see them!  We don't want to give it away by all of us looking to see if there is a ring."

I looked anyway.  There was no ring.

Finally, dinner time was drawing near and the sun was getting ready to set.  When Noelle had stepped away for a moment I told Ben, "You are losing the light - she's not even going to know what you are doing.  Everyone is tired and ready to go.  If you want to wait for camp, that's fine, but we can't stay much longer."

We were getting on the SkyCab to head over to the other side of the park and have dinner.  As we were waiting in line, Ben pointed at the SkyCab, pointed at his ring finger, and then pointed at Noelle while she was looking in a different direction.  I nodded and told everyone I thought we should go in groups of two in the SkyCab.

Kerry and I were in the one right before Noelle and Ben.

I managed to take this one shot with Kerry's phone but the light was behind them and we couldn't see what was happening so we didn't know if Ben was seizing the moment or not.

Then we managed to snap this photo as their SkyCab came in.

We were all standing there grinning like maniacs when Noelle held up her left hand to show us she had a ring on it!!!!

We girls, of course, screamed and squealed and hugged everyone.

Noelle told us, "I'm really overwhelmed. I'm having a LOT of feelings right now!'' 

We asked them what he had said and Noelle said, "He said.......I don't know what he said! What did you say?" Then Ben said, "I said.......I don't know what I said! Did you say yes? You're wearing the ring so I think you said yes!" They were laughing and they were so flustered, it took them a few minutes to even remember how it had all happened.

They were so cute.  They would stand with their heads together looking at the ring and just smiling.

We went to dinner afterward and Noelle got a baked potato with her meal and she commented that the bacon bits were real instead of imitation. A little later Ben asked her, "So, was it a good day, Noelle?" And she said, "Well, the bacon bits were real, so......yes!" 

Congratulations to Ben and Noelle!

Let the next adventure begin!!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Busch Gardens

After we left our home state, we headed up to Virginia.  That's where Ben's summer job is, and we have friends and family we wanted to visit while we were there.

Ben's girlfriend was able to join us for the day at Busch Gardens where we had a very exciting day!

We rode lots of rides, but that wasn't the most exciting part.

We had fun family time, but that wasn't the most exciting part.

We saw lots of cool animals, but that wasn't the most exciting part.

We saw a dragon being carved out of crisco and cornstarch, as well as really nifty carved watermelons and all sorts of food art which was really cool but not the most exciting part.

We rode exciting rides and saw fun thing, but those were not the most exciting things of the day!

I accidentally took a photo of my feet, which really wasn't all that exciting.

I fell down when I tripped backwards over a curb.  Kerry thought I had been knocked down which almost caused some serious excitement.  But no, it was totally my fault.

Although as that bruise bloomed over the next few days, it got more exciting and Kerry told everyone that he had punched me in the arm when I sassed him.  

But the most exciting part of the day was............

(those of you who know us already know what happened, but I'm saving that for tomorrow because it totally deserves its own post!)

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Another Driver

Emily got to drive for the first time while we were back home as well.  She's never had any interest in getting her license, but I figured if I could just get her behind the wheel and let her try it out in a field where she didn't have to worry about hitting anything or anybody, it would light a fire under her and she would get excited about driving.

I was right.

She has now completed driver's ed and has her learner's permit!

Monday, July 21, 2014

A Man of Many Talents

 My father-in-law is one of the most impressive people I've ever known.  The man can build anything, make anything, fix anything - and I'm not kidding either.  He once neutered my cat on our dining room table with a steak knife.  That cat was well and truly "fixed".  I've often wished I had taken a picture of that moment.  It would have been awesome to have company over for dinner and whip out a photo and say, "Guess what happened right where you're sitting?  And with that knife you're using too!"

One of his latest projects has been carving building replicas.  This barn is one he made from scratch, including carving every roof shingle by hand.

 The end comes off so you can see inside.  My girls would have had a fit to play with this when they were younger.  Polly Pockets having their very own barn?  It would have been paradise for the girls and the Pollys.

FIL also carved this cabin.

 The roof lifts off so you can see inside of this one as well!

 Some of the furniture is purchased, some of it he made himself.

 Not restricting his talents to small-scale projects, he also built a full-sized cabin.

And a bridge.

I'm telling you, he's got some serious know-how!