Monday, November 23, 2015

So Many Things To Be Thankful For

This year I have so many things to be thankful for. First of all I am so very thankful that my sister Debbie and her husband Mike have opened their home, garage, side yard and more to us for a little over 2 weeks. After our stay in Gettysburg, we headed to the Delaware shore. The beaches were beautiful but the towns were pretty much closed for the season and after two nights at the beach, the weather was starting to turn so we decided to head to Debbie & Mike’s a little early. 

We are so very thankful to be in the comfort of a real home. We have been on the road now for almost 3 months and this was perfect timing for us to regroup and reorganize the camper.  We have been able to spread out, box up uneeded items to send home, clean all our clothes, sheets and the camper inside and out. Not to mention sleeping in our own rooms and having a bathroom to use that is literally bigger than our entire camper.  We are also happy to be in a spot where we can get trusted recommendations to get the truck fixed, get our hair cut, fill prescriptions and get flu shots. The girls are also loving the stay here more than ever, not only do they get 24/7 time with their cousins, but they also get the feelings of home as well, running around all day outside with the kids in the neighborhood, visiting school to pick up the kids and even seeing Cousin Zach in his 1st grade performance. We have been treated to fresh baked cookies and crockpot meals, which are things we don't have in the camper. I have also been able to join Debbie to get my exercise in at the super fun Jazzersize in Chesapeake. Siena and I got to celebrate our birthdays here as well, which was wonderful to be able to share our special day with family and friends. My birthday treat was having an adults only, fancy dinner out in Norfolk at the delicious Todd Jurich's Bistro.

Birthday Dinner at Todd Jurich's Bistro

There is a lot to see and do in Virginia, but because we have been here a few times before, we haven’t felt the need to be out sightseeing everyday.  We have been able to visit with our Texas cousins Jennie Ruth and Sam who also live in Norfolk.  On the few days we have ventured out we have explored the Virginia Aquarium and the Virginia Zoo, we ran a 5k to help raise money for Prostate Cancer Research, we got to drive on the Virginia Beach Board Walk and see the Holiday Lights and we are planning to take a trip to visit Nauticus. But for the most part we have been enjoying the comforts of home, relaxing and catching up.

Girls at the Aquarium

Crazy animals at the zoo
Face paint for the kids after the Zero Prostate Cancer 5k Race 
Needless to say, we are so thankful for the hospitality of our family. And as I have mentioned in previous posts, we are super thankful for the opportunity to have this trip, it is a true blessing to be able to travel around the country and visit family and friends we don’t get to see often enough. As the holiday season approaches, this year will be very different for our family. We have prepared our kids that there will not be many presents to open and likely no real Christmas tree to decorate, but we are so very thankful that our both our families are planning to travel across country so that we can all celebrate together in sunny Florida. 

We are concerned we might be getting a little too comfortable here at Aunt Deb's house, so we will head back out next weekend, after Thanksgiving and watching the Cougs in the Apple Cup. I know we will likely have some tears and some struggles getting back into our tiny camper because we have been pretty spoiled over this visit. But we are also looking forward to more adventures, seeing new places, not knowing what the next day will bring us and heading South to some sunshine and warm weather. Life on the road can be challenging, but when we are able to mix in family, fun and comforts of home here and there, we are able to strike a nice balance that will keep us going on this crazy adventure for the months to come.

Holiday Lights on the Virginia Beach boardwalk 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Thank You

I apologize, I've been a bit slow in getting this blog post out. After 2 months in a camper, life here at my sister-in-laws house has been a little too comfortable making it easy to forget about responsibilities like thanking everyone who supported us in the Zero Prostate Cancer Run in Norfolk this last Saturday. Not only was this Kathy's birthday and chosen way to celebrate her birthday, this was also a race for an important cause. According to the web site (linked above) it appears they beat their goal of raising $50,000 toward the goal of ending prostate cancer. Please consider this a huge thank you to all of you who donated to the cause!!! And special thanks to the Thompsons who provided us a reason to come to Virginia!!!
The full running team!

Siena finishes the race

Cousin Micheli finishes the race

Nadia finishes the race

The race was fun and well organized with a great turn out. There was a short little kids dash, followed by the 5K run/walk. After the race they had quite a bit of food and (surprising for a 5K) beer. However, the beer was served out of plastic containers marked Urology of Virginia and looked very much like sample cups.
Enjoying my post race beer beer
As I was enjoying a beer from my sample cup, I walked over and briefly chatted with Tracy who was the Zero Prostate Cancer's Senior Director of Events. I told her my story about being diagnosed with prostate cancer a year ago, having surgery last March and the road trip I was on with my family that brought me to Virginia. Tracy told me about the Zero Prostate Cancer organization and told me that next summer there would be a Zero Prostate Cancer run in Portland, Oregon and that they were working on having a race in Seattle, Washington for 2017. Tracy encouraged me to stick around saying there would be a concert and gifts for survivors. A short while later, Nashville recording artist Jimmy Charles and his band played for the runners. The band completed its performance by playing the song Superman for all the prostate cancer survivors.
Up front with other survivors as Jimmy Charles sings
A little bit about the Zero Prostate Cancer organization: Their mission is to end prostate cancer. From their website:
ZERO is committed to advancing research through advocacy and direct contributions to research while offering financial assistance to patients, early detection, and education programs.
I was particularly interested in "...offering financial assistance to patients" part. I can tell you that without my medical insurance the cost of my surgery alone would have been over $60,000 (this doesn't include all the testing and treatment before and after the surgery). So again I say, I was lucky.
I would encourage anyone who is interested in helping or getting involved to check out the Zero Prostate Cancer organization and consider raising money or running in one of their future races.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

My Experience At Gettysburg

This is the closest I will come to posting a family pic at Gettysburg
We arrived in Gettysburg two days ago. Yesterday we explored the Gettysburg National Military Park. We took the driving audio tour. Today we visited the excellent park museum. Normally, while on this trip, when we visit some historical location, I have posted fun family photos. After two days, it’s clear that Gettysburg is not the appropriate place for this. How can you feel right about posting a family selfie in a place where nearly as many Americans lost their lives in a single battle (51,112) as in the entire Vietnam War (58,209). The whole place is a giant cemetery.
Some faces of men who lost their lives at the battle of Gettysburg from the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum
After spending a day travelling the battlefield and hearing the historical retelling of the battle and a day exploring the museum, I can only think of one other place that I have felt was darker: Birkenau. Mind you, Birkenau was a Nazi death camp where along with Auschwitz over 1.1 million people were put to death. However the feeling is the similar, this is a place where too many people died. Not a place for family selfies.

The town of Gettysburg is surrounded on three sides by the battlefields. As you travel the battlefields or even the town it is hard to go more than an 100 yards without viewing a memorial for fallen American soldiers. It is a hard place to introduce your children to history, especailly as the audio tour introduces you stories like the Wheatfield, an area the size of a couple football fields where thousands of men died. There were so many deaths that they said you could walk portions of the field without touching the ground. However, both the Union and Confederate armies retreated from this field for days leaving the wounded to fend for themselves. Even as a nearby farm’s pigs were unintentionally set loose from their pen, with the injured having to fend off the pigs as they fed on the dead and dying.

Despite the horrors of the battle that was fought here, I am glad I came. I learned more about the Civil War in the past two days than I could have possibly imagined. There was so much to take in, and my daughters really don't have any mental frame of reference to be able to begin to appreciate what happened here (actually I don't have any mental frame of refernce for this), so I'm not sure how much of this is sinking in now. I can just hope that later on, perhaps when my daughters are in highschool, they study the American Civil War and they will have the memories of this place to draw upon.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Help Us Become Calendar Models...

We only have one day left for voting, we are hoping to become Truck Camper Magazine Calendar Models, please click this link and vote for our Camper photos. 

Our photos are: #189, #400 & #401  

Here's one of them #401.... 

Thanks for your support! 

Monday, November 2, 2015

Siena's Pre-Birthday Post

Dear people reading this blog I'm sorry I have not written a post for a while but that just means I'll have more to tell you, like yesterday we stayed at a farm and they had llamas, alpacas, goats, and chickens.

Also my birthday is in two weeks :-)

I'm turning 12 :-D !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Any way Halloween was two days ago  and nadia and I got lots of candy so that was fun and today we are going to Gettysburg in and we'll be there for a while.