Friday, October 3, 2014

In No Particular Order, 31 in 31 - Day 3

Thirty-one Trips Since 2003

I've tried to share some of our travels in the past 11 years (Enter the Kids years) by way of photographs instead of just words.  The photographs aren't necessarily the best photos from our trips (some of them are), but they were significant in my mind to represent the trip.  I tried also to keep captions short.  It was really difficult to narrow down all of our trips to just 31!  We have gone so many places -- we are so blessed!  Anyway, here's a sampling of one of our family joys...

1. January 2003 - From New Hampshire to Coastal Maine.  This was just C and I.  This was about a year after we were licensed to adopt and just before the foster care department called us up and asked if we would consider foster parenting while we waited for our adoptive placement.

2.  April 2003 - From New Hampshire to New York City, NY.  We celebrated C's 30th birthday with a trip to NYC, while we waited for a foster or adoptive placement.  This would be our last couple's trip for a lonnnnng, lonnnnng time.

3.  July 2004 - From New Hampshire to Six Flags in Agawam, MA.  Celebrating just over a year since the boys moved in with us (S came a bit later), we took the kids down to Six Flags New England.  Though we'd been to Boston to visit museums with the kids over the past year, I felt like this was the first MAJOR undertaking "on the road" with kids.  It was still just a long day-trip, but it was a good test run for travels to come.

4.  September 2004 - Glen Ellis Campground, Glen, NH.  Our first camping trip with the kids.  C and I used to love camping, but camping with kids was both really challenging and really fun.  This was our first morning at the campsite after arriving after dark the night before.  The kids were all so filled with wonder with making pancakes outdoors and were eager to help C.  Well, at least the older two ... Z was off digging in the dirt with a stick somewhere nearby.

5.  October 2004 - From New Hampshire to California.  We finally got approval to travel out of New England with the kids!  So they had their first ever airplane trip and we went to visit extended family in California.  This is at the Pumpkin Farm in Wheatland, CA with C's side of the family.  I still remember a lot of details about this day years later.

6. March 2005 - From New Hampshire to California.  We had such a successful trip to California the previous autumn that we decided to go again.  Also, I think we found cheap tickets for some reason.  Unfortunately, we were unable to get approval for J to come with us as she was placed with us just two months prior.  She was a tiny infant, so she won't remember missing this trip, but it was so hard for me to put her in respite care for the week.  This was the only time we used respite care to take a trip -- now, I kind of wish we'd done it more often (to get in some couple's trips)!  But these kids had suffered through so much disruption in their lives, I didn't want to add to it for selfish reasons by leaving them in respite.

7.  June 2006 - Camping at Mile Away Campground in Henniker, NH.  This was J's first camping trip.  It was lots more fun though because we took this trip with a Bible Study group we were in.  There were lots of other parents and children and everyone teamed up to make the meals, entertain the kids and just fellowship together.  It was so much fun.

8.  August 2006 - Camping at Moose Hillock Campground in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.  What a fabulous time this was for our family!  Moose Hillock is a camping RESORT and we got to stay there with four or five other families, which included lots of adoptive and foster families, as well as homeschooling families.  I think there were only like eight or nine adults in total, but like 25 children, including two Labo Students from Japan!  Crazy, crazy fun.  Oh yeah, and in the middle of our fun week, we had to drive back home to finalize adoptions of our oldest three.  They were finally ours.  The funny thing is that in 2007, 364 days later, we finalized adoption of J and almost immediately left for camping here again with most of the same families.  If we hadn't moved, it would have become an annual tradition -- go camping, someone gets adopted. Ha!

9.  October 2006 - New Hampshire to California.  Another trip to go see family, but this was J's first flight and she did it with a toddler fracture in a cast.  She celebrated her second birthday in California and we were there for my sister's 30th -- though we didn't celebrate her as big (my bad) because this was the first birthday we got to celebrate with J and I was preoccupied with that.  I think my sister has forgiven me by now though.  Happy belated 30th, Jessica!

10. November 2007 - New Hampshire to California and a Cruise to Mexico (3 ports).  What an amazing opportunity provided to us by my dad and mom.  It was my second cruise ever and we got to do this trip with my parents, my sisters and my nieces.  I gave all the kids a disposable camera -- even the littles -- and they got some funny photos of their first international vacation (and still their only international vacation).  This provided O with his first airplane flight and gosh was it a lot of work to get permission for him to come as we would not finalize adoption of him until December.

11. November 2007 - New Hampshire to Montpelier, Vermont.  The New England states are pretty dinky in size, so traveling between them was easy to do.  We took many day trips now that the kids were a little older and this was one of them.  Some of our favorite repetitive day trips included Coastal Maine; Springfield, MA; Boston, MA; Providence, RI; Newburyport, RI; Green Mountains in VT and all over in New Hampshire.

12. March 2008 - From New Hampshire to North Carolina and back.  This was our longest road trip yet.  We were fresh into homeschooling and C had business down in Raleigh, so we all went together and made it an educational trip.  We also knew that our move to the Southwest was coming soon, so this was a bit of a "road test" for everyone to get used to the idea of a long time in the car.  It went really well and we explored all the coastal states on the way down and went over to Pennsylvania on the way home.  My favorite spot in North Carolina were the Outer Banks where we visited lighthouses and the Wright Brothers Memorial at Kill Devil Hills.

13. June 2008 - From New Hampshire to Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  We bought a pop-up tent trailer thinking we might camp our way to New Mexico (only, we didn't account for summer heat -- so we ended up in hotels instead) and this was our test run camping trip.  Also, it was our first time to Cape Cod as a family.  It was just a weekend campout, but it was so much fun!  I won't soon forget how pretty it is out there on the Cape.

14.  August 2008 - From New Hampshire to New Mexico.  This was our move and not really a trip, per say, but we did make many stops along the way that we might not ever have been able to do if it weren't for the move.  We saw Niagara Falls in New York; we stopped and explored a real castle in Ohio; and we visited the Precious Moments Visitor's Center in Missouri; among many other places.  It was a challenging time, with moving, but we tried to enjoy our travels and make it memorable.

15. December 2008 - From New Mexico to California.  Now that we lived closer to California, we would not have to buy expensive plane tickets to visit family there.  It was still a two-day drive each direction, but for seven of us, it was better than plane tickets!  Our first driving trip to California was a trip for Thanksgiving.  I am featuring this picture of the guest room in my parents' house because this was where Mom kept all the toys and the kid TV for grandchildren who visited (my nieces lived close by and visited more often).  I think many good memories were made in this room.

16. April 2009 - From New Mexico to Wickenburg, Arizona.  Our friends from New England were getting married in Arizona, close to the bride's family.  We were asked to be in the wedding party (J was also a flower girl and O was a ring-bearer)!  The couple ended up getting married on our 17th Wedding Anniversary.  So now we share a day of celebration.  Since we were all decked out, I asked the photographer to get a shot of us.  This is probably our fanciest anniversary day photo since the wedding.  I found the dress in the bride's choice of color at David's Bridal for like $17.  I love a great bargain.

17. July 2009 - Santa Rosa, New Mexico.  This was a day trip, but it was particularly notable because it was 2-1/2 hours away and at the time, it was the most driving I'd done in a day all by myself.  C was on a business trip for the week, and we were all missing him, so I wanted to do something grand to take our minds off our sadness of him being away.  I felt strong as a mama on her own with all five, in a new state and exploring the desert.  This trip did my heart so good.

18. October 2009 - Camping in the Manzano Mountains, New Mexico.  This was a birthday request from our girl turning five that year and it ended up being our first and only camping trip in New Mexico.  The desert is a really inhospitable place for camping y'all!  There are mountain campsites, but they don't have electricity unless they're just an RV park - and my medical needs require electricity.  It was a great weekend though and we got to explore the ancient ruins in the area.

19. December 2009 - Disneyland, California.  We did it!  Our first trip!  Best time of our lives. We loved it so much we took another Disney trip in October 2010, too.  Then we topped this off by heading to Northern California for Christmas with the extended family.

20. June 2010 - From New Mexico to Oregon.  This was a special trip for just our S and me while she was having a tough time in life.  I thought a getaway for the two of us would give us a chance to bond and heal some of our relationship wounds.  We also got to visit with my sister in Salem! She got injured just before our day along the coast, so she stayed home to rest and so this was a day trip for just the two of us to the beach.  The weather was rainy and windy, but it didn't matter to me because we were together.

21. June 2010 - From New Mexico to Tahoe, California.  Mom was turning 60 and so she and Dad invited us out to a family cabin in Tahoe.  This was a cabin I'd grown up spending vacations in, so it was so important for me to be able to share it with our children and relive memories around the area.  This particular picture was taken from the day we spent touring Virginia City, Nevada.  Such a fun time with my parents, my sisters and my nieces.

22. October 2010 - A second trip to Disneyland, California.  This time we went with a couple church families who were friends of ours and did not follow up with a trip up to visit family in Northern California.  Still, we had a lot of fun and J celebrated her sixth birthday while we were on this trip.

23. February 2011 - From New Mexico to California.  This was a trip where J came with me and C stayed home with the rest of the kids.  We were helping my sister and nieces move to New Mexico, so we took a one-way flight and helped with the driving to get them there.  I took J because she was used to long car rides and I thought she might help entertain her cousins along the way.  It all worked out pretty well!  What an adventure.

24. July 2011 - From New Mexico to Florida.  Here was another opportunity for us to travel with C on a business trip to Orlando.  He had a conference to attend and I saw the opportunity for some great learning and fun.  Of course we stopped along the way there and back in many of the southern states, including a night in Galveston, Texas -- who knew this would be a foreshadow to our future move to the area?! We finally decided to install a DVD player in the big van and so the kids were thrilled to have the opportunity to watch a movie on each day of the drive (we still didn't like depending on it).  Most of these faces look mad, but really they were just zoned into the moving pictures on the screen.

25. November 2011 - From New Mexico to Utah.  Yet another business conference for C and another opportunity for our family to go along and explore Salt Lake City.  There are always blessings in our travels, but the most memorable one here was at a stop along the way where we had dinner in some tiny southern Utah town and a stranger bought our meal without a word to us.  Just out of kindness I guess.  We didn't know till the meal was over and the bill didn't come.  He was long gone.

26. October 2012 - New Mexico to Colorado.  We spent a long weekend in Colorado Springs as a family.  We had a great time visiting Focus on the Family's Adventures in Odyssey Museum, Crave Burger, the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo and Garden of the Gods, among other places.

27. December 2012 - Another trip to California from New Mexico to visit family.  This time we celebrated O's eighth birthday as we traveled. 

28. January 2013 - Just about a week after we returned to New Mexico from California, I traveled back to California by plane, by myself.  My first solo trip (without even a kid) since I'd been married.  My grandmother had passed away and I returned for her memorial service.  Her passing was bittersweet as it followed a long battle with dementia, but the service was a wonderful time to worship God and to visit with family members I had not seen in ages.  What a blessing for me.  I also had an especially nice time with my parents on this trip.  Without the distraction of children, I could give my mom some focused time to help her through her grieving and to serve them by organizing some of their photos.  I am so thankful I was able to go on this trip even though the timing was slightly inconvenient considering we had just traveled there as a family.

29. March 2013 - From New Mexico to Arizona.  Our dear friends had moved away to Phoenix the previous autumn and this was our first opportunity to go visit with them there.  We had an amazing time visiting the area and dreaming about what it would be like to live there close by them again.  It didn't pan out, but it was so wonderful to spend time with our friends.

30. September 2013 - From New Mexico to California.  I was turning 40 and what did I want?  A vacation from motherhood.  That's all I asked for.  This was our first "without kids" trip C and I had taken in years (only once prior did we spend one night away) and we flew to San Diego for the loveliest time as a couple.  What a huge blessing on our marriage.  Our children were split among friends in New Mexico and I'm so thankful for all of their willingness to give us this gift.

31. April 2014 - From New Mexico to Texas.  We were pretty sure God wanted us moving to Texas.  So in April this year, we took a two-week trip to explore our options.  In the meantime, C had an interview and got a new job and the rest is not-so-distant history.  Now we live here!  Anyway, for C's 41st birthday, which occurred on our visit, he wanted to visit NASA and so we did.  What an amazing place to see in person.  One of the best days of our entire two weeks here.


  1. Fun compilation! Who is that guy in 2, though?

  2. How FUN!!! I love all these trips and that you go camping so much! I want to start taking more trips with the kids. We average one every couple of years.

  3. I think this list will be so hard to top! Love seeing all the pictures of your family growing....sweet memories:)

  4. You guys are real "trip setters"! I didn't realize you had taken sooo many trips. ( This isn't even all of them.) Thank you for the trip down memory lane.

    Love, Mom