Saturday, June 3, 2017

Got Keys?

Our rental application was approved today!  We checked out of our hotel and made an appointment to meet our landlord and pick up our keys.

She couldn't meet with us until late in the afternoon, so we spent a few hours at a park near our new home.  It has a pond, about a mile of walking/biking paths, and a really cool playground with . . .

. . . a little zip line . . .

. . . fun slides . . .

. . . a climbing wall (race you to the top!) . . .

. . . and a panel with the ASL alphabet, in case you want to brush up on your skills.

And now, the moment we've all been waiting for!  We finally got the keys to our new home: a three-story townhouse on Goose Landing Circle in Columbia, MD.  It's even got a white picket fence.  Most of our belongings are still in a trailer in a nearby town, so we'll be sleeping in sleeping bags and eating dinner on the floor tonight, but at least we now have three bedrooms and three bathrooms instead of one of each at the hotel!

Friday, June 2, 2017

Lions and Reptiles and Crabs, Oh My!

We're still waiting for approval to rent the home we applied for.  In the meantime, our friends the Hoffmans invited us to come to the National Zoo with them this morning.  I made at least three wrong turns driving into D.C., and another two wrong turns driving out of it, but we did manage to make it to the zoo.

I have to say, it was pretty cool to stand just a few yards away from some honest to goodness lions . . .

. . . but my favorite part of the zoo was the reptile house.

It was fun to look in the terrariums and see if I could spot the lizard, snake, or other creature housed therein.

Plus, I like turtles.

Anna's favorite creature in the zoo was the sand cat (shown here taking a sand cat nap), which inhabits the deserts of North Africa and Central Asia.

I think Joy's favorite part of the zoo was the bamboo shoot she used to whack every hard surface we encountered on the walk back to the car.

Speaking of wildlife, Marylanders are very fond of eating crabs, which are plentiful in the Chesapeake Bay just a few miles away.  It's common to see cars with a crab-shaped sticker bearing the pattern of the Maryland state flag (which looks like a cool medieval crest).  As I see that unique symbol of state pride over and over here, and think back on many signs I saw in Conway showing the shape of Arkansas or its flag, I wonder why I don't recall such expressions of state pride in California. Do they not take pride in their state, or do they assume that everyone already thinks California is awesome and they don't need to state the obvious?

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Searching, Reading, and Swinging

Well, we made it to Maryland.  Last year I looked up a couple interesting places to stop during our interstate road trip, but this time I just wanted to drive straight through to our new state, with occasional stops at Chick-fil-A to eat nuggets and play on their playgrounds. 

On Saturday we settled into our extended stay hotel.

Each in their own way.

Our rental search as turned up two good prospects, and we've applied to rent one of them, but while we're waiting for all the paperwork to go through it's hard not to go stir crazy in our little hotel room.  To stave off cabin fever we went to Barnes and Noble to buy a few good books . . .

. . . and paid a visit to a nearby park.

We may not have a home at the moment, but we still have the Lord and each other, and that's enough.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Almost Homeless

We're back from our house hunting trip, just in time to pack everything up and drive away from Marlise Drive.

The good news is that all our stuff is packed into the trailer and ready to go (we hired professional packers who loaded everything up in record time).  The bad news is that we don't have a new address yet to send it all to.  We found two good prospects to rent, but in both cases someone else signed a lease before we could.  We've made a reservation at an extended stay hotel in Maryland, and we'll live there while we continue the house hunt.  As Joy put it, we're about to be homeless for a while.

In the meantime, the kids are amusing themselves in a home with no furniture . . .

. . . the girls are winnowing kernels from Joy's wheat crop . . .

. . . and the only things left in our closet are the kids' favorite toys, who are apparently having a pre-move party before we all pile into the minivan for a long drive tomorrow.

Todd is tired of moving, and we haven't even moved yet.  Me too, buddy.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Where the Sidewalk Ends

When I was a kid, I read a book of humorous poetry entitled, "Where the Sidewalk Ends."  I thought the title was an amusing joke, because everyone knows the sidewalk doesn't really end, right?  Even when it reaches a corner, it just turns and keeps on going around the block.

Then we moved to Conway, and I discovered that the sidewalk actually DOES end here.  Rather abruptly, as it turns out.

As a matter of fact, it ends about a half dozen times on the big street near our house.

Sometimes it ends just a few feet after it begins (which is probably why these guys didn't bother walking on it).

The ending sidewalks have made me chuckle over and over during our year here, but I didn't get around to photographing them for a post until this morning.  I guess this is a fitting post to write as our sojourn here is coming to an end.  Later this week, Phillip and I will head off on a house hunting trip in the Baltimore area, then it's goodbye Arkansas, hello Maryland!  Wish us luck!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mother's Day 2017

I once heard a joke that motherhood is a full-time job with no paid vacation or sick leave, you only get one day off each year sometime in May, and you still technically have to work that day.

All kidding aside, my family has done some nice things to make this Mother's Day a heartwarming day.  The kids wrote and drew sweet notes at school and church, Phillip bought me some lovely roses . . .

. . . and Joy and Anna baked me a cake, complete with my very own lollipop. :)

I'm not a perfect mom, and there are many times when I wish my kids came with an instruction manual, but I love them dearly, and I'm honored to be their mom and mentor on their journey back to heaven.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Reptiles, Fish, and Azaleas

We've been to Blanchard Springs Caverns.  We've been zip lining in Hot Springs.  We've been to Heifer International's headquarters and urban farm. We've been to Toad Suck Daze (twice).  The last thing on my Arkansas bucket list was . . .

. . . the Nature Center in Little Rock . . .

. . . where you can get up close and personal with cute, cuddly native critters like a snapping turtle . . .

. . . or a baby alligator.  This one's smaller than Todd, but two years ago a hunter set a state record for the biggest alligator ever bagged in Arkansas: 13 feet, 10 inches.  No wonder some people around here call them swamp dragons.

My favorite part of the museum was the long, segmented aquarium containing fish from various regions of Arkansas.  The tanks held carp, bass, catfish, and long thin gars (including one that was bright white and almost didn't look real).  Daniel wanted to see if the fish would be intimidated by a giant, stuffed trout.  They didn't bat an eye (figuratively or literally, since fish don't have eyelids).

Time for a photo op by the azaleas!  Pink goes so well with green.

P.S. Glasses are cool.