Day 2 in which timing, location and miracles are everything

Before you delete or close this window, please know that I’m aware there’s nothing more droll than reading about other people’s vacations. But this isn’t that kind of post. I promise. I just have to tell you what God did today (Wednesday, July 30, 2014). Since we didn’t know for sure when or if we would be making this trip, we didn’t make any hotel reservations until we got on the road. We also didn’t know that this is the same week that motorcyclists all over the United States would converge to South Dakota’s badlands for the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Hotel reservations that a person can reasonably afford, are difficult enough to acquire this time of year. Families visit Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone Park every summer, and getting affordable rooms for five people isn’t easy. But couple that with the Sturgis event, and it’s nearly impossible. But Praise God, we did find some rooms that allowed a roll-away bed! You have no idea how much of a miracle that is! Today we drove for twelve hours and if you know anything about I-90 going west through Minnesota and South Dakota, you know how desolate it is. There are very few towns along the route and I couldn’t get internet access most of the way. There weren’t a lot of places to stop for gas and nowhere that we could see to go when your tires shred and fall apart while going 70 mph. God is so amazing! We heard the thu-thunk of the tire shredding but the car stayed in its lane. What is even more amazing is that we were only about five miles from a Walmart Supercenter which has a tire replacement service. And even more and more amazing–there was not one customer in front of us! I don’t know how many Walmart Supercenter’s are along rural I-90 , but I venture to guess our tire shredded near one of the only ones. Seriously. Isaiah, my son with autism, told me that when he heard the tire shred he felt God telling him not to worry, that the angels were holding the tire together and the car on the road. Pretty cool. Everyone is having a good time so far. Mama Ellen (who has Alzheimer’s) has kept me in stitches with her funny questions and comments. The twins have been amazingly good and patient. There wasn’t much to see along I-90 except beautiful prairie, corn and wheat. But there was a junk art exhibit near Montrose, South Dakota. Pretty weird stuff. Now we’re tucked into our beds ready to close our eyes and drift off to dreamland. I’m going to snuggle under my blankets content with...

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Family vacation–an exercise in character building

We were supposed to leave yesterday. Finally, about an hour ago, we squeezed ourselves into the car. All five of us. We’re going to travel 5100 miles. Together. In a car. 5100 miles. Now, mind you, we all have special needs. Two have autism, one has Alzheimer’s, one has ADD (my husband) and one is riddled with a genetic propensity toward anxiety. (I come from a long line of nervous people.) My husband has ADD. I don’t know if you’ve ever ridden in a car driven by someone with ADD.Straight lines are an abstraction. I don’t know how we don’t get pulled over for suspicion of intoxication. Why on earth would God pair a woman with anxiety issues with an ADD man? The only explanation I can think of is that He thinks it’s funny. Especially when my spouse hits those rumble strips on the side of the road when I’m in deep thought/sleep. Or when I look up from reading and we’re 2.5 inches from the back of a semi trailer. Not to mention the stuff he listens to on the radio. Oh, Dear Heavenly Father, deliver me. If it’s not the comedy station singing songs about racoons praising God in church, it’s barber shop quartets. I mean, I don’t mind for ten minutes or so. I love all types of music. But after eight hours I’m ready to strap myself to the top of the car. It’d be much more tolerable, I assure you. Mothers take vacations to rest from getting ready for vacations. I’ve done more laundry in the last week than I did all year. And I’m one of those people that has to clean the house before a trip. I mean, what if I die and don’t come back? I can’t leave this earth with people thinking I’m a slob. And then there are the dogs and cats. Who will take care of them? Even as I type this I have a knot in my stomach and a lump in my throat thinking about how much I’m going to miss them and how much they will miss me. I’m worried about the kittens going feral and the dogs’ hearts being broken. Two weeks is a long time to be away from one another! I did, of course, provide for someone to come in and interact with them each day, and to care for the house. My house won’t sit empty (so if you’re planning on robbing me, don’t try it. My dogs will eat you and my house sitters are armed and dangerous). But will those people cuddle the fur kids enough? I wish I had the money for a nanny cam! That way...

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The case of the disappearing fingerprints

There’s nowhere to hide. Unless, maybe, you don’t have fingerprints. Years back I wrote a novel during NaNoWriMo where one of the characters had to scan her hand to access her office. I was rather proud of my cutting-edge technological knowledge back then. In those days, such a premise was nothing more than science fiction. It ain’t no more. As I work toward my degree in Special Education, I have to go through an extensive background check to student teach. Part of this background check (required by my college, not the school–I already substitute teach with a basic background check), is to be fingerprinted. I was already feeling a little bit disappointed I was going to do this because I prided myself in living off the grid as far as my fingerprint identity goes. (Not that I could truly live off the grid. Google my name and there I am in all my glory.) I expected to go to the police station and do the ink fingerprint routine. I was worried about it ruining my manicure. I needn’t have worried. They no longer do ink fingerprinting for background checks in the United States. Now they use biometric scanning technology. The future is now. I was greeted by a very kind, older gentleman who looked a bit like a character from a sci-fi spaceship movie. He gently placed my hand on the scanner and manipulated it to get the right position and scan. We soon learned that I’m one of the difficult ones. I’m missing fingerprints on my little finger and ring finger. !!! Not my hand but this person has no fingerprints. Turns out, not having fingerprints is actually a genetic condition called Adermatoglyphia. But that’s not what I have because my other three fingers and my thumb have prints. Apparently, through years of playing the piano and typing, I’ve worn my fingerprints off on those two fingers! I thought it was piano playing but my husband reminded me that on my computer keyboard I wear the letters off where those two fingers on each hand land: q,w,a,s and o,p,l, and ;. If my fingerprints are rejected, I’ll have to go in and scan them again to prove that my fingerprints don’t scan. Then, I’ll have to submit paperwork to prove I exist as my name. (I don’t know why they don’t do this in the first place.) There are other reasons and occupations that causes our fingerprints to disappear. Aging causes us to lose fingerprints. Apparently it’s difficult for older people to use biometric identification technology because their skin is thinner and the ridges on the fingers not as pronounced. Guess that means it’s official. I’m old. The...

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Strong Girl: Malala Yousafzai

Imagine riding the bus home from school and being ambushed by the taliban because you blog about girls getting an education. This is what happened to Malala Yousafzai on a Tuesday, October 9, 2012. The young militants opened fire on the bus, shot Malala in the head and neck, wounded two others, and left them for dead. They thought they’d silenced Malala forever but they were wrong. She survived and has continued to spread her message that a girls’ education benefits everyone. It reduces mortality rates, increases lifetime wage earnings, and strengthens democracy. Malala’s miraculous recovery has taken her from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. She is the youngest person to have ever been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Malala’s father sounds a lot like my dad. My dad never limited me because I was a girl. He always told me I could accomplish whatever I set my mind to. Malala’s dad owned a school and encouraged his daughter to write and go to school even though he lived in a society that prized sons more than daughters. In July 2013, on her 16th birthday, Malala addressed the United Nations General Assembly: “We must not forget that millions of people are suffering from poverty, injustice and ignorance.  We must not forget that millions of children are out of schools.  We must not forget that our sisters and brothers are waiting for a bright peaceful future.  So let us wage a global struggle against illiteracy, poverty and terrorism and let us pick up our books and pens.  They are our most powerful weapons.” Malala reminds us that some girls face death for going to school. Terrorist groups in Afghanistan and other oppressed areas of the world continue to threaten and attack female students and teachers. Things were improving in some places but with limited presence of the United States in these oppressed areas, girls lives are in danger if they read books and go to school. Clearly, Malala is a strong girl with big dreams. The next time you’re tempted to skip school, think of the price other girls in the world pay for the right to learn. Strong girls are readers. Strong girls are educated. Strong girls, like Malala, have the courage to stand up and not sit down for what is right. How much better [is it] to get wisdom than gold! and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver! Proverbs 16:16 Tweet this: Strong girls want an education and are afraid of no one....

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Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan 5/5 stars

There are just so many reasons why this book is epic. First of all, it’s written by a dad. Second, it’s written by a dad who loves his kids Third, it’s written by a dad who adores his wife Fourth, it’s written by a dad who is a conservative who takes his kids to church Fifth, it’s written by a dad who is a comedian in secular clubs and on TV — and he’s clean. In the book, he talks about how he never intended to be “family friendly,” he just is. It’s full of hilarious anecdotes and tons of love for his wife and kids. His wife loves children and he loves his wife. Now they have five children together. And he seems to be a wonderful husband and father. I hope it’s true. I hope it’s not hype. The writing is pretty average. But the humor combined with the fact that he’s writing about a rare thing these days–an intact family–he gets all five of my stars. I am always impressed when someone can take ordinary everyday things and tell a funny story. He does that in this book. This would make a great gift for fathers everywhere. And if they don’t like to read, this book is also on CD/audio. They might enjoy listening to it on a road trip or on the way to work. Tweet this: Need some applause? Fry...

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