Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Back to Kansas Life

On Sunday night, we checked out a nearby trail that our friends had told us about. It was awesome!

It was a great place for the kids to burn off some energy

Love these three!

Daddy's girl

I'm enjoying the extra special residual "we missed you!" love =)

Smiley stinker

Getting a ride from Daddy

Putting on their best "scared" faces in front of these creepy looking woods 
(this picture makes it look darker than it was)

We only walked a portion of it because it was getting dark, but we can't wait to go back and check ou the rest!  (Philip and Keenan might do some biking there, too)

It was time for some haircuts around here today...

First up, Shaggy Curly Boy =)

Next was Keenan's turn (what a pile of hair that was!)

After (much better!)

Keenan reading all of our trip posts out loud to the other two =)

Mom bought us this beautiful orchid as a welcome home gift!   

To water it, I just have to give it three ice cubes each week!   Super weird!

The kids had a great time watching some big machines in our neighborhood this afternoon

While we were watching, I showed Caleb a dead (smashed flat, probably for a week or two) bird on the side of the road.   He looked very serious, put his hands on his cheeks and said, "Oh my... oh my.   We should pray for it.  I said, "Caleb, it's dead."   He said, "We should pray over it."   So he prayed for the dead bird.  (Then, when he saw a Capri Sun package in the grass he said, "It needs a drink!"  Maybe he doesn't know what "dead" means. =)

Welcome to Wichita Party

My friend, Dawnita, hosted a "welcome tea" for me to welcome me to the Via Christi Family. A bunch of the residents or residents wives came and they all brought me gifts that I can use for photography! So sweet!

The food was amazing and everything looked so nice!

Chocolate mousse

Amazing scones

Dawnita and I

Some of the gifts

These apple pastries were to die for!

Two babies on the way! =)

More of the guests

Wheeler, the only male in attendance

Heather and I

Carrie, Me, Ah Rim

Lauren, Wheeler, Jessica, Me and Kelly

Dawnita, Stefanie, Me, Becca, Janita and Christa

I sort of told my life's story (in short), and then they all share their favorite places (to eat, shop, have fun) in the local area.  It was a wonderful evening and I felt so loved!   What a blessing it is to be in this place with these women for friends! =)

Monday, September 29, 2014

Last Day of Our Trip

We had all morning before we needed to head to the airport, so we decided to see some of the Freedom Trail in downtown Boston. Unfortunately someone (ahem) forgot their license in the Corvette and we had to go out of our way to pick it up, so our time got cut short. We did see a few things though...

The Old North Church

A pretty courtyard near the church

I just liked how this rose was growing through the fence

A typical North End Boston street

Just a fraction of the huge market

We went back to Quincy Market and had some delicious turkey BBQ and some overpriced gelato. =)

Just one of the delicious dessert shops

Pretty harbor shot

We saw the Constitution across the harbor

After getting to our gate, we skyped once more with the kids.

I love this shot of them all crammed in front of the camera (and Philip and I up on the left!)

Philip took these cool shots as we circled Boston...

I really like these ones that he got as we left Atlanta at sunset, too...

So pretty!

This is what greeted us when we arrived!

Love them!  (and Isaac's hilarious horse mask)

It was SO good to be back with our kids! =)

Mom and Isaac did a tremendous job of holding down the fort And giving the kids a great time... going to Spangles, the Nifty Nut House, the zoo, the Keeper of the Planes, parks...and spoiling them with gifts and treats =)   We are SO grateful to the two of them for helping make this trip happen!!

A brief numbers overview of our trip:

8 days
7 flights on 3 airlines
5 states
2 countries
2 Azorean islands
7,700+ miles travelled by air
5 hour time change
1 Super cool family to visit
25 geocaches
4 bulls
1 octopus eaten
2 volcanoes traversed
1 Corvette driven
550+ photos taken
Countless memories
1 Awesome husband
1 Sweet mom and brother's help with childcare
1 Great God
... we are blessed.

And that, folks... wraps up our tenth anniversary trip!   What a week!!!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

A New England Surprise!

September 26th started out well, we slept in and then had one of the BEST hotel breakfasts we've ever had! An omelet bar, tons of cereal (delicious granola) beautiful, fresh fruit, greek yogurt, tons of beverage choices, etc. What a wonderful start to the morning!

We were Delighted to be in Boston as it's fall colors were starting to pop!   Gorgeous!!

A pretty leaf I found outside the hotel

Philip had a couple geocaches on the agenda, and it was fun that they lead us on some gorgeous hikes through the woods in the perfect, fall weather!

One of the pretty trails

My man

With some fall foliage

On top of the world!

Just as Philip found the first cache, this beautiful (unaccompanied) dog showed up out of nowhere, sniffed around and then carried on his way

With the cache 

Selfie with the pretty colors

Goofing around while Philip hunted for the second cache 
(You can't really tell in the picture, but I'm standing on the edge of a very old dam, quite high up!)

On top of the dam

Oh, the joys of geocaching... =)

An artsy shot of our rings while I wait

He finally found it!
(The oldest one in Massachusetts!)

More of the gorgeous path

I was delighted to find this awesome lookout spot to see Boston in the distance!

After geocaching, we rushed back to the hotel to shower and change (because we apparently had somewhere to get to).

Philip was pretty vague about what was happening between now and our date that evening, but said that he had got a driving tour route from someone and we needed to start it by a certain time in order to see all the spots before dinner.

We grabbed lunch, and then as we drove, I was putting on my make up, and not really paying attention to where we were going.   When we slowed down to stop, I looked up and realized we were pulling up in front of someone's house.  Weird.   Then, a fraction of a second later I see three Corvettes in the driveway (wait, No One owns three Corvettes!), then I see this...

...and say, "Woah!   What the heck is going on!?  =)  Are we driving a Corvette???"   Philip said, "Yup... for the rest of the day."

AAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!   Dream.  Come. True!!!   Seriously!?

I was completely giddy as we got out of the car and met the owner, Mike, (a SUPER nice, Boston native with the best accent ever).

Philip here for a moment...I contacted Mike through his website on August 11th and thought it would be a long shot to manage to get a reservation less than 2 months in advance.  He wrote back shortly after midnight (his "day job" actually involves working nights) and said that not only did they have availability, I could pick which of the three we would drive.  I was so excited that this was actually going to work out that I could barely get to sleep that night without telling Joia.  Operational security was of critical importance so Mike and I were the only ones who knew this was planned.  I told my sister that I had something planned for Joia but didn't give any details.  I almost spilled the beans multiple other times over the next six weeks, but especially when she was prying into why we needed to be at a specific point in the afternoon.   About a mile before the freeway exit we passed a convertible and I mentioned that it was a beautiful day to be driving with the top down.  She agreed but said something about how her hair would get messed up in the wind because she didn't have a hair elastic.  Oh great, I thought, the whole plan ruined by lack of a hair accessory.  I ran through options in my head trying to figure out if there was a way I could get her a hair elastic without blowing the plan...nope, we'll just have to deal with the hair issue after she has been surprised.   Now back to Joia...

Now I vaguely remembered Philip asking questions a month or so before about color preferences for a car (black, red, or white with silver racing stripes, and would convertible top trump color?)   At the time, I thought he was talking about the rental car we'd have in Portugal, and then forgot all about it!    Ha!   Now it made sense!   He made sure to get an automatic one so I could drive too, since it had been Forever since I've driven a manual!

Turns out, Philip had chosen the "Date Night Package".   This included a planned route, with stops at a few historical spots, and a drive through the beautiful fall countryside, which would end at Gibbet Hill Grill, our dinner spot (a gift certificate for dinner was included).   Awe.Some!!

Us in the car just before heading out

This beauty is the 427 60th Anniversary Convertible (this is the part where everyone but Rob will probably tune out).   There were only 354 built to the exact specifications of this one.

It retails for about $80,000, has got 505 horse power, and will go 0-60 in 3.8 seconds (unfortunately, I was not able to test this out for myself) =)

It was completely surreal pulling out and driving away in it.   It rumbled like a dream and having the top down was super cool (I sure didn't care about my hair anymore!)

 Philip at the wheel

 I originally opted for the "old lady scarf" look, but really needed a huge pair of sunglasses to complete the look =)

Our first stop was at the Old North Bridge, where the revolutionary war began with "The Shot Heard 'Round the World".

 This is a little hard to read, but worth it

 The bridge

 Minute Man

Us on the bridge

 A pretty church in Concord

The drive was stunning.  Beautiful, winding, hilly country roads, lined with huge properties and gorgeous old homes decorated to the nines for fall.   (Swoon!)

 My turn to drive

 How I really feel about it =)

 I do love a Corvette's butt (especially before they changed to square tail lights!)

 Happy, happy!

On our way we saw this place, and since we had extra time, we stopped to take some pretty pictures!

 Love this

 Yes, it's really fall!

 Beautiful mums

 With some pretty flowers

Their produce was gorgeous... so gorgeous that we ended up buying a couple tomatoes and four honey crisp apples.   They were half a pound each!


This was a super cool feature of the car... the heads up display that projected onto the windshield for the driver... it looked like it was sitting out on the road in front of the car!

 At a stop near a cool covered bridge

Some detail shots

It was really fun seeing other people's reactions to the car.   Kids getting off the school bus stopped to look and point and a guy crossing the street in front of us at a red light gave us two thumbs up. =)

 I think it looks good on me =)

 Mike, the owner of the car, loved this shot so much he asked if he could use it on facebook and his website! =)

 There is a reason you never see people our age driving these!    No one has that kind of money! =)

 My hot husband with the hot car

 One of my favorite shots of it

Time for dinner!   The Gibbet Hill Grill was amazing!

The outside

A couple shots inside

The cool thing about this place is that they grow all their own produce and all their meat is local.

Doodle on the table

I had veal and Philip had a Ginormous, delicious steak!

After dinner, we decided to walk one of the trails to see the remains of a castle up on the hill..

Us with the restaurant in the background

Sunset view at the top of the hill

With the beautiful castle!

One of my favorites

My only regret about the car experience was that most of our driving took place on 40 mpr (or less) roads.   After leaving the restaurant, we put the top back up and I took to the freeway to at least get in a bit of 65 mpr driving before we dropped it off.   Good stuff. =)

Awesome, awesome day!!!   Philip, you never cease to surprise and amaze me.