This past year has featured a plethora of challenges and blessed opportunities to grow. I have had the privilege of spending quality time with my family and creating memories that will last us a lifetime. Throughout the year there was no shortage of adventure. As we continued to pursue the goal of getting each of our children to visit all fifty states in the United States we added on a visit to twelve states that some of them have never been to before. The older two had been to Florida but the younger two had not. Throughout this trip we spent most of the nights in our retrofitted Sprinter Van. After a few longer road trips that put us in awkward overnight situations we decided that it would be time to upgrade. That event occurred late in 2017 and made for some great adventures in 2018. 

Mom’s ready to play as her whole family is off to school for another year.

Even with all of the adventures and road trips I managed to get in three semesters of schooling as I continue to push forward to finishing my Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy. I decided early in 2017 to go back to finish my two years of schooling to finally earn a degree. It has been a challenging decision, but one that I do not at all regret. I am very glad that I decided to work towards a degree in Philosophy instead of trying to do something basic and simple like business or marketing. Giving myself cause to think and refine my writing and study has been added difficulty but the kind that challenges me to be better and more engaged. 

My crew is the greatest! I love that we are able to do so much together.

This past year was one of a lot of reading. I completed eighteen different books this past year in addition to the partial books that I read and the many essays and articles that I had to read for my various college courses. I enjoy reading. It opens my mind and causes me to enlarge my thinking and understanding. I have been honored to even partake in two different book clubs. Being a part of these groups help me to find likeminded individuals as well as to continue to sharpen my saw by reading books that I might not otherwise get to. Reading has been a lot of fun lately. I hope to read at least twenty-five books this year.

Road trips take us to so many beautiful places.

Our big road trip this summer was one that was somewhat of a blitz, but also a blast. We left at the beginning of July and spent the 4th of July in Albuquerque, NM. We were hoping for a fun town celebration but it got spoiled by a big wind storm and we ended up leaving early without any fireworks. We did enjoy the activities and live music that they had there. We then drove out through northern Texas and Oklahoma along Route 66. Our children had a blast at the child’s museum in Oklahoma City. They have now set it as the benchmark for a great museum. They even want to take a trip to Oklahoma City just for the museum. We then spent a day in Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas and onward into the great music towns of Memphis and Nashville. A few days were enjoyed in the Smoky Mountains in Great Smoky Mountain National Park. We then checked out some of the great southern gem cities in North and South Carolina and Georgia. The beaches along the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico were amazing. We camped within 1000 feet of the beach in Panama City, FL. Our longest stay was in New Orleans were we enjoyed the sites, gators, and French Quarter. Houston and Austin were our final stops before the long drive home. Mom flew home from Austin, TX to get back to work while I took the rest of us on the miles home. 

We have found a love for road trips with our children. Some of our favorite things about road trips are the different cultures and opportunities to serve others. We look for ways that we can get to know the places that we visit beyond just the tourist attractions. We live frugally. That keeps us from visiting some of the biggest attractions, but causes us to think outside the box. We get creative. We visit different church congregations. We interact with people of different skin colors, languages, religions, and more. We have felt that these experiences really benefit our children in a culturally diverse world. They get to see beyond what could be a bubble of isolation. We love those that we meet and the places that we visit. These memories are rich and priceless. We are blessed to have the ability to be flexible in work and life schedules to be able to travel the way that we do.

Les and I were able to escape for a few days to sunny Mexico. There, we got to relax and play on the beach and in the pools together.

I look forward to what 2019 has in store for me and my family. I will graduate this year. That will require me to figure out more fully what I am going to do with my talents and my time. I am grateful that I have been able to work with a variety of clients and companies over these past couple of years. That might continue. Or I might engage in something completely different. I have a lot to offer and I hope to be a benefit and strength wherever I am engaged. On to another year!

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