How Stands Our Record in 2014?

Good reflections for parents at the close of the year.

The Adventist Home Educator

“Fathers and mothers, how stands your record? Have you been faithful to your trust? As you have seen your children inclined to follow a course that you knew would result in impurity of thought and word and act, have you, first asking God for help, tried to show them their danger? Have you pointed out to them the peril of following a path of their own choosing? Mothers, have you neglected your God-given work,—the greatest work ever committed to mortals? Have you refused to bear your God-given responsibilities? In the time of trouble just before us, when the judgments of God fall upon the impure and unholy, will your children curse you because of your indulgence?

Your home is a little world of itself. In it, order, prompt obedience, submission, should prevail. It is a duty that parents owe their children to make wise rules for the guidance of the…

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Li’l Bit’s Blog– Christmas Family Road Trip–day 1

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This is Little Bit, the cat, and I’ve decided to take over the blogging for the next little while.  I don’t get my voice heard as much as I’d like…

My humans woke up today and they seemed all excited.  I finally got out of bed and stretched as I sauntered out to see what all the commotion was about!

Piles of coats, boots, blankets, clothes?  What is all this stuff?  Why can’t these humans be a bit more like me?  I take my coat and boots everywhere I go, and why do they change their clothes so much?   I don’t need a suitcase for my clothes!

I heard the people talking about going to Crater Lake–now I’m an adventurer and all, but why would they want to drive for seven hours to go look at a big hole in the ground?  I can dig them a hole…not sure why they didn’t ask me.

Well, they loaded up lots of stuff, and they finally came back in and got me.  I started to wonder for a few minutes if they forgot about me…but I didn’t need to worry.  I get to go on every trip they take!  I guess I am a traveling cat!

At one point along the trip, when we had just barely gotten started, I saw an amazing sight!   Thousands of white swans and tons of cygnets all just swimming along in the swampy land next to the road!   Ducks and ducklings too–so many you couldn’t even see the water–I really wanted to stop and capture a few–I mean, capture the view, but my good chauffeur did not stop.  Talk about missing a golden opportunity!   Can you believe it?

Then, at a roadside stop, I heard a man mention a ton is SNOW where we are going to camp?  What are these people thinking?  Camp in the snow by a big hole in the ground made by a mountain blowing up?  This is starting to concern me.

As as the day has progressed, I’m getting a little bit afraid.  We saw a huge mountain, and the family called it Mount Shasta.  I don’t know what all the fuss was about, though, because it was completely covered with snow.   I couldn’t see any trees because of all that snow.  I’ll admit that the mountain  was majestic and pretty, but I’d sure get cold trying to climb it!   I think I’ll stay in the truck!  😸

My family and I pretty much drive along all day.  The scenery was nice out my window.  Reminded me of western Utah/Nevada, where it looks desolate, yet enchanting.  Really not many trees to climb, though, just fields of juniper.  I guess I would enjoy a romp through the juniper.

We we found a funny campground not quite to where we are headed.  Funny because it seems like it’s right inside a city, with roads so close, and noisy cars zipping by!  Not your usual camping atmosphere, but we are going to make the best of it.   The people did a pretty good job of setting up their new tent.  I was impressed!  ⛺️

I am a little bit of a naughty kitty.  I just couldn’t stand to sit in the truck and wait for the people to come and get me out, so I climbed out the window.    I just wanted to go exploring, but I almost got lost.  Mommy and Daddy were standing beside the fire, warming up, when Mommy heard a rustling in the grass behind Daddy.  She called the boys to see if it was them, then she seemed to know that I was the one making the noise.  I got scared when she called for me, so I ran away.  🐈   Everyone wanted to catch me, but I wasn’t ready to get caught, so I ran some more.  Finally, Daddy caught me by my tail, and everyone rejoiced.  My family always says a prayer before we set out on a trip, and I really am glad that my family’s angels watched out for me.   I have a pretty good family.  😻

It’s night now, and my first road trip blog post is almost finished.    After everyone climbed into their sleeping bags, all cozy-like, they seemed to remember little ol’ me, still in the truck, crying.  I’ve slept in the truck by myself before, but I feel so lonely and neglected when I have to.  Besides, it’s c-c-c-cold out–freezing, actually.  We’re in Oregon, you know. Anyway, someone had pity on me and brought me inside the tent.  So, now I have to pretend that I like to snuggle down inside sleeping bags to sleep.   I purr real loud so I don’t hurt anyone’s feelings.   They like it when I sleep this way.

I think everyone’s gone to sleep except for Mamma and Daddy.   I’m not too sure they’ll get much rest.   After the skunk sprayed right outside the tent, they didn’t seem quite so enthused about sleeping in the open air.    :-/  Mamma keeps wriggling around in her bag, and I suspect she’s got a rock under her back.   She never does get much sleep while camping, but for some reason she still likes it.   I think she does it partly because she knows they are making memories.  Somehow, even with all the discomforts, the way-too-much-time that a camping trip requires to prepare for, the inevitable cold feet, sore back, or burnt oatmeal, the memories that you take away from these trips completely outweigh the pains.   And you just can’t take memories away!

I’m pretty smart for a cat, aren’t I?  🐱

purr…

Fired! No girls allowed!

image image image image image image image image image image imageToday I was fired.  Just like that.  Told I should not come back to this job, and that if I did, I’d be chased right away!

That’s some pretty rough treatment, isn’t it?  But, I will have to say that I showed up at the jobsite without the supervisor’s approval, and so was never hired in the first place.  I was volunteering.  But, I still got fired.  Guess my help just isn’t wanted around here today.

Yippee!!!!

I got the day off!  Like it or not (and I did like it, I just was surprised), the boys got hired to work, and they didn’t need me as their supervisor.  A strange thought for me, since I’m always their supervisor!  Just not today.

(Well…a little time has passed, and now I’m switching to the past tense.)

Daddy’s boss became the Little A’s boss, and what a job they had to tackle! Something like three miles of wire needed separating and, eventually, stripping and dismantling. It didn’t look too bad until you saw that a steel core had to be removed from the strands of aluminum wire before it could be taken to be recycled. All by hand.

On Sunday, the boys started the task. A very eager-beaver Lil A jumped right in. Wire cutters, safety goggles, whatever it would take, he was ready! The littler A’s got to work soon after, and since I didn’t have anything specific to do, I came out to see how the job was going. It soon became apparent that this was going to be a job that would require some real focus in order to finish it by night. I guess I felt a little bit sorry for the boys as we all looked at that huge pile of wire needing attention
So, we all jumped in and started–cut–twist–bend–then begin again. We really did keep at he job, but by the end of the day, the pile to be done still dwarfed the pile we had done. This was going to be quite a job!

The next sunny day the boys geared up again, and I came out to help get the job advanced along. That’s when the Boss Man came out and declared that I was not part of this deal. This was a boys’ job opportunity, and no moms were going to be working at this job. His intention was to hire the boys so they could have practical work and I could have a breather.

When it was explained this way to me, and when the Boss Man himself offered to supervise the operation, I became quite cooperative. 😃 I was instructed to head inside and work on whatever I needed to do. After changing mental gears, that became easy enough. I enjoyed working on our Christmas cards. 😊

Something else I enjoyed was keeping up with what was happening on the job site out my window. Happy chattering, frequent check-ins by the Little A’s to keep me updated, and I did see that progress was happening. What surprised me the most was Littlest A, who went to work like a true helper-boy. Somehow, working for the Boss Man inspired this little A!

Really, working with the “big guys” inspired all of the Little A’s. Soon, Boss Man’s brother, and Grandpa B. joined the team, and the wire really began to fly!

I think that working with the guys is an healthy thing for boys to do, because they see how responsible men see a task, jump in, and get it done! And, even though the Little A’s need to improve in that area, I was encouraged to see that boys respond to healthy examples of hard-working men.

Not surprisingly, within a short amount of time, the wheels began turning in the mind of Mr. Boss Man, as he commented that there must be a faster way to do this job! His inventive brain soon came through for him, and next thing I saw, the guys had a railway crossing gate, through which they were running the wire to separate the strands. This speeded up the task by leaps and bounds, and the daunting task suddenly became manageable. And the pile of wire began to shrink visibly. So, they had those three miles of wire separated and snipped, and that phase of the job was completed! As for the unwinding each strand of wire, when the Boss Man saw how tedious that job turned out to be, he called that phase off until he could figure out a better way to tackle the task.

Great work, Boys!
And special thanks to Mr. Boss Man and his crew for the Mom’s day off!

Scripture Singer App

I don’t do a lot of re blogging, but this is worth sharing, for anyone who has a device that uses apps and is interested in scripture memorization.

We are, and have checked out this app, and it is really high quality music and pictures for memorizing Bible verses.

It’s a free app. Worth checking out!
😃🎵

The Adventist Home Educator

A free Scripture memorization tool from Fountainview Academy.

Scripture Singer. The app  combines music with scripture in a way that makes the memorizing of the Bible simple and effective. The app has over one hundred verses with more being added all the time.
Download the app and try it for yourself on the App Store and the Google Play Store.

 

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Thrifting

Something I learned from my mom is the habit of good deal shopping.   From as far back as I can remember, she loved garage sale shopping.  She’d get all excited when on Fridays she would meet up with a girlfriend to hit the sales.  I know we tagged along with her sometimes, but sometimes we must have stayed at home.  I can’t remember going to all of the sales, but I sure can remember when she’d come back with her treasures.  I do remember that my brothers rolled their eyes at yet another sale, but I liked going with Mom.  Remember those Jelly shoes?  Well, my first pair came from a yard sale.  It’s probably a good thing, too, because although I loved those silly shoes, they were some of the most uncomfortable ones I’ve owned.   But they were popular.  😏

Our Sunday tradition included visiting the flea market, and the whole family went along. Even my brothers seemed to enjoy seeing what new treasures would be for sale that

😀 Smiley's mug

😀 Smiley’s mug

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Earthy mug, and our tea sampling tower ☺️

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Little Guy and his elegant cup

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His & Hers

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Little Bit's mug  shot

Little Bit’s mug
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day.   I’m sure we bought things; I still have a music box that I purchased at that flea market, but mostly we just looked and enjoyed the experience of being there.

I rarely have time nowadays to close up shop on Fridays to check out the yard sales, as they call them in the South, but many times I’ve gazed longingly at those signs.   And I know that my mom and aunt carry on the tradition.   Even my husband has a hard time passing up the possibility of a good deal, so he sometimes brings back a nice jacket or sweater, or new-to-him tool that he’s found.

But, even more fun than a yard sale, to me, is a thrift shop.  You don’t have to wait until Friday, and they pop up all through the year, in all kinds of places.  As we’ve travelled, we’ve found that thrift store shopping is pretty much nationwide.  Our family has enjoyed frequent trips to the local thrift shops, never sure just what we will come out with.

Just this week, we found three new games to play on rainy days (like today, when it’s pouring and flooding in many places around us).  One for sure is educational, and teaches about outdoor knowledge, like birds, animals, and camping.  We’re getting quite a game collection here, all used, all less than two-fifty.   But we have more opportunity to play games here than we ever did at home, with the early evenings and staying inside more.

I’d rather find things we need used, anyway, as long as they’re good.  It seems more and more like the stuff at the big stores is just cheap junk, so why pay the new price for it?  We may be able to find older items at a good price, and can be thankful that they were made before the days of plastic.

Shortly after we arrived in CA, we hit the thrift store as a family. I was excited to find five mugs for tea that fit the personality of each of us.  Friendly Man and I got matching mugs with a country scene on them.  Not particularly exciting, but still comfortable and cozy.  Big A chose a brown stoneware mug with a flower on it that reminds me of nature.  It’s very earthy and I love it.  I chose one, actually for myself, initially, that was cheerful and bright, with shamrocks and buzzing bees.  When we got home, though, I realized that Middleman had not chosen a mug for himself, and offered him that one. He smilingly accepted it, and instantly I knew that it suited him.  Smiley.  😃  I chose a mug with a drummer boy’s drum on it for Little Guy.   But right away he said that that one was not the one he wanted. I looked around and saw no more children’s designs, so I asked him what kind he wanted. He happily ran over to a fancy set of beautiful, rich blue dinnerware, and picked up one of those teacups. Well, okay, why not?  So, whoever buys that set of blue dishes will be one teacup short, but Little Guy loves his elegant cup.  Now, we each have a distinct mug that we can use for tea or water, to keep it straight whose is whose. ☕️

Games, jackets, shoes, sturdy hangers (versus the ones that keep breaking from W-mart), a salt shaker that hopefully shakes this time, a beautiful scarf, gloves, ski boots, we’ve found all kinds of fun stuff just this week while out thrifting!  All at next to nothing!    It’s exciting to find recycled treasures, wonderful to get out and enjoy saving money as a family!

And it’s all Mom’s fault!  😉

Snapshots

I liked the “Wordless Wednesday” idea from a fellow blogger.  So, here’s the first, (almost) Wordless Wednesday.   🙂

Truckee sunset

Truckee sunset

Colfax station

Colfax station

Lewis & Clark game

Lewis & Clark game

Cinnamon fragrance "cookies"

Cinnamon fragrance “cookies”

The engine rumbles in

The engine rumbles in

Glittery gingerbread guy

Glittery gingerbread guy

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When Mama snaps

 

3 boys
+ 3 days heavy rain
+ 300 square feet living space
+ schoolwork
________________
Four cases of cabin fever😿

 

Normally, this really wouldn’t be a problem. I’m actually a homebody anyway. Running around interrupts our normal routine, and I put off taking trips to town.

 

Here–it’s different. I think we all welcome getting out even if only for the extra elbow room we get while we’re gone. When rain comes, and it finally did, even to California, it adds challenges we don’t encounter at home. No room to really get any exercise, or get the wiggles out. That’s kinda major with three boys. I really think that the not getting out factor did a lot in the way of pushing all of us into the hyper-irritable, hyper-sensitive, and just hyper-hyper mode.

 

School was a slog, attitudes challenging, mine included, and no one had any particular desire to do anything that we could do inside.  One particular instance where two children made a simple choice to do something they knew was off limits literally sent me into a personal crisis.  Nothing dangerous, just a very heavy cloud began to settle over my spirit, and I took the offense personally as a mom.   I began that downward spiral of believing that my kids were bad, that I was a terrible mom, and that I would do anything just to get a break from it all.   Well, like I said, it’s hard in a little living space to find an empty corner for some personal space and alone time, which I occasionally do require (ok, I crave it), and this day was no different.

 

I now realize that I was starting to experience some symptoms of burnout.  Irritable, probably tired, although I didn’t feel it; resentful toward my husband’s “freedom” to get out, no desire to do anything with the “monsters”, aka my boys.  I just literally felt fed up.  I am not proud of this feeling, but it was very real, nonetheless.   I really just felt like doing one of two things–getting out alone, or–crying.  I ended up doing the latter some and retreated into my pitiful little world for awhile.  That didn’t help.

 

I needed a new approach, or I’d end up making things worse for everyone.  I decided to put on a happier face for awhile, and try out some change of scenery–so we went to the RV next door and shared some pictures with our older friends.  Something about service, even this wasn’t exactly that, takes us out of our natural feelings and helps better feelings to come in.  At least it burned up some time for us.

 

We came home and decided to try a game.   We had a neat one that we’d picked up for $2.50 at a thrift store about the Lewis and Clark adventure.  That helped too, to get through the evening.

 

However, when evening passed, I still found those overwhelming thoughts rushing in.  Lying thoughts about my family, about me, and about life.   It seemed like I was trapped.  Rain still fell steadily, and the outlook for the next day looked pretty bleak.

 

You may wonder why in the world I just didn’t go somewhere!  It’s a fair question.  We actually did get out of the RV the day before, to do laundry and grocery shop, but to me, taking three little pent-up packages of boyish energy into anything smaller than a football stadium felt more and more like a crazy experience. I mean, let’s be honest–the energy has to go somewhere! In this case, somewhere equals the shopping carts, grocery aisles, each other–you name it, it’s going to release one way or another. And you end up with feeling like you’re directing a circus of bouncing orangutans and octopuses through the aisles. Our boys are not bad, but we certainly have our share of collective energy between the three. To them, no action is complete without sound effects–so picture every turn: “vroom, screech, broooooom-broooooom, beep-beep,” engine noises, back-up beeps, you make it; if a machine makes it, my boys imitate it. ALL THROUGH THE STORE. I’m one who has to think as I go along, and so this makes it take quite a bit more time–shushing them and such. These things would be fine in their place–a large area outdoors, but inside the store, RV, or laundromat, engine noises times three make me begin to come unraveled. 😯

 

But that’s only one reason, and not really the main one. Because there have been places we’d like to go see that we haven’t. Until now, when we wanted to go somewhere, we could get to somewhere interesting by walking. Our first park had walking trails to downtown, through the woods, and all over. The first and second parks had nice playgrounds, and interesting things to do within the park. So we never really had to drive. Oh, in that RV park that was like a big park, I did drive, but it was always forward. We had nice large turn-around area, and a pull-through parking spot. So, I didn’t have to address what now stared me in the face. I was afraid. Of that truck. I almost took it out several times when we first got here, but something always prevented it, much to my secret relief. It may sound silly, but I seriously was terrified to take that thing out, fearing I would get it into a tight spot and have to back it up, which is where my fear lies. I’ve never been a truck-driving kind of girl, and, while I admire my husband’s driving skills, I’ve never wanted to perfect the process of steering a big ship of a truck anywhere. It just scares me when I can’t see around the big sides, and it scared me to the point of paralysis. 😳 So, I was in a prison because my own fear.

 

Many times the boys had pleaded with me to just go somewhere–the train, the library, the store, wherever, and they didn’t know why I told them no. So, they felt frustrated, and, honestly, so did I.  My fear was actually trapping all of us.

 

That night as I lay in bed, the monster of fear threatened to take over.  The “what if” scenarios began to play out in my mind.  “What if I hit someone while backing up?  What if I couldn’t get the truck started while we’re out?  What if, what if…”all the way to fearing about our trip home and me driving some big truck all across the country.  Yikes!  I can’t even drive three hours without having to stop several times due to feeling drowsy.  So, as I gave in to one fear, more crept in.

 

Long story short, I woke up the next morning, while still carrying the feelings of despair, determined to give my burdens to the Lord.  I began the day with prayer for wisdom and direction, and courage.  I knew that I needed peace of mind more than I needed to check one more day off for school.  I knew we all needed a day to breathe easy and just enjoy each other, which, sadly, sometimes we miss.

 

I made my choice.  We packed sandwiches, got in the truck, and cranked it up.  That was the hardest part.  I knew once we rolled away that we would probably be just fine.  And we were.  Yes, there were a few lurches and jolts as I got the gear shifting process smoothed out, and we just parked toward the back of every parking lot we came to, with plenty of room on either side and behind.

 

We set out on a mission to find inside activity supplies, so we need never despair on the next set of rainy days!   We found lots of glitter, beads, glue, and other supplies to create fun crafts.  So, future posts will show pictures of that process.  We also found lights to brighten up the RV–strings of Christmas lights–one for each boy to use as he wished to decorate his own bed.

 

We took a fun side trip along the way to the stores, and stopped at the train depot in Colfax.   That’s where we ate our lunch as we watched for the train.  This depot had a nice little park area with benches right along the tracks, and a history museum.  The museum was tiny, but we met such a nice lady inside to talk with.    She invited us to some of the town events coming up and shared postcards with us.

 

A change of pace and environment did wonders for all of our attitudes.  Yes, we still had machine noises in the store, and, yes, we still have our personality clashes and character issues to deal with, but for that day, the tide turned for us, for me.  No longer am I paralyzed by the thought of taking the truck out, although I still am intimidated by parallel parking it.  I don’t anticipate that I’ll ever tackle that, but I can use it to do what we need to do, and so I feel like I’ve had a victory.

 

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I later came across a story in the book Love and Respect in the Family, told by Sarah Eggerichs, wife of the author.   The story really resonated with how I felt.  The family was on vacation, and the three kids in the backseat started the squabbles.  No intervention helped, in fact, things got worse.  Finally, at one point, Sarah, the mom, defeated and discouraged, said, “I give up”.  At the next rest area, while the husband wisely shuttled the kids to the bathroom, she found herself staring at the group of Harley guys nearby, and began fantasizing about riding off down the road with them.  She really didn’t want to ditch her family with the motorcycle guys, and I didn’t really want to either (well, maybe long enough to go out and get a smoothie or something  🙂 ), but at that moment, escape seemed like a nice option.  Burnout and defeat hit everyone at times.  There are many different reasons, so there is no “one size fits all” solution.  But, I think that one step that worked for me was recognizing the problem, and changing gears in some area, instead of continuing to grind at the one that’s not working.  We all need a little break sometimes.  🙂

Amazed

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So, after our family was thoroughly wowed by the big Giants in the Mariposa Grove, we drove to visit Mr. Friendly’s aunt and uncle in Fresno. That’s where we changed from being national park tourists into shameless Tennessee google-eyed tourists!

I mean, everyone’s a tourist in the park–you expect that. But, to whip out our cameras in an ordinary backyard–well, that’s probably crossing a line somewhere! But, what we found so amazed us that we just couldn’t help ourselves!

Bright orange and yellow balls hung from trees like Christmas ornaments. Indeed, that’s what they reminded me of. I am not used to such brightly-colored oranges, anyways, having grown up eating Florida navels, which are much paler, and not so uniformly-colored. Oranges, tangerines, lemons, mandarins, and across the neighbor’s fence, there were pomegranates–growing right on a tree! This truly was unreal to us–and all in November, almost December! And it was seventy degrees!

After the initial shock of seeing such wonder growing right in the backyard, we enjoyed catching up and spending time visiting with Daddy’s aunt and uncle at their comfortable and inviting home. We truly had a nice time sharing good memories from past years and walking, cooking, and eating together. And Aunt S. really was a good sport to try some vegan dishes, which she survived, I do believe. 🙂

On Sunday, Aunt S and Uncle W took us to a really neat place they had found in their city. It was called the Underground Gardens, and the whole thing really blew us away. I won’t entirely describe it here, as Wikipedia does a pretty good job, but since that site is kind of dry, here’s a link to one that shares some reviews, which are fun.

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g32414-d281791-Reviews-Forestiere_Underground_Gardens-Fresno_California.html

A man actually excavated the whole underground structure by hand, and what an amazing job he did!! As we explored the fruit orchards that grew underground and stretched up to greet the sunshine above, you can bet that Mr. Friendly allowed his mental gears to crank into overdrive with ideas of what he could try. You never know until you try, do you? This whole underground house/garden is an example of that fact.

Here are the Little A’s favorite memories:

Little A #1: ORANGES and Fuyu persimmons

Middle A: ORANGES (and the Underground gardens–because of the growing fruit)

Littlest A: ORANGES (and the Underground gardens–seeing the fruit and going through it)

Little Bit: hiding under the bed

(can you see a theme of this family? Food seems to impress the Little growing A’s the best!)

The time whizzed by too quickly, and soon we had to head back to winter. :-/ But not without our good memories, and even a generous gift of those orange and yellow beauties that so amazed us!

YUM!!

Wowed

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So, the Giant Sequoias really are giants! And these are not the biggest–those grow in another park.  But there’s no mistake about it–these trees are big!

Because of potential damage to trees by walking too close, they fence the biggest trees about, so all of the photos leave the giants somewhat in the background.  We’d have loved it if we could have gotten right up close, but I think you will still be able to see that the Giant Sequoias are impressive.

I realize my slide show and pictures below have some of the same pictures.  I uploaded some from the phones and some from the cameras, and I’m just feeling too lazy to sort them out.

The one thing I’m going to be sure to remember about this stop is that all five of us had cameras of some sort.  The two older boys had their own cameras, and Mr. Friendly gave his camera to Littlest A to use.  I had my phone and regular camera, and Mr. F had his phone.  That’s a lot of cameras!  We could have designated one person as the official photographer, but that wouldn’t have been nearly so much fun!  At any rate, at each and every tree that one person took a shot, at least three more people whipped out their cameras and took the same picture, each from a different perspective, I’m sure!  But getting through the sights was sure slow with our camera crew.  Several times, I caught other tourists giving a little smile to the boys as they all lined up to take a picture.  We were all very well photographed that day!

I still need to download the pictures from the boys’ cameras.  They probably captured some good shots!

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