John Wayne and the Covered Bridge

What do John Wayne and the Covered Bridges have to do with each other? Well, that’s simple: Madison County, Iowa!

Yes! John Wayne’s birthplace is in Winterset, which is a tiny town nestled in Madison County, the home of the famous Covered Bridges.

The reason for our impromptu trip to Iowa was one of great sadness, so we decided to lighten the mood and stop to see some attractions on our trek back to Colorado.

Claire is a HUGE fan of John Wayne. He’s her favorite actor. Yes, really. She’s loved him for at least a couple of years now. I know this isn’t the first person you think a 10-year old would admire, but there you have it!

John Wayne’s Birthplace and Museum aren’t too far off our path home, and on the way there, we decided to stop off at one of the famous covered bridges. One right along our route was the Hogback Bridge.

Madison County Bridge

Two bridges

As you can see in one of the photos, we are no longer allowed to drive across the bridge. It was completely safe to explore on foot, so we did just that!

After the bridge, we made our way to Winterset to John Wayne’s Birthplace and Museum. She loved it!

JW statue outside

JW statue inside

Grief

We’re home from the hardest trip we’ve ever had to make. It was a whirlwind trip, and all of the days are a blur. What day is today? Thursday?

As you may know, my nephew was killed in a car accident, and we made an emergency trip back to Iowa. Grandma was out here with us (on her WONDERFUL vacation!) when this happened, so we did what we could to get moving in a different direction. We got her back to the airport a day earlier than anticipated, and then we started our own 11+ hour roadtrip.

Sunday afternoon, for almost 4 hours, we greeted over 400 people, most of which waited 1.5 hours in line to cry with us. (If you were there in person, thank you. It means more to me than you’ll ever know.) I didn’t think it was possible to cry so hard for so long, and yet the tears still come. Sunday night was spent out at my sister’s reminiscing and laughing at old stories, even though our hearts were broken.

I thought Sunday was the hardest day, until Monday got here. I’ve heard estimates of 500 people at the funeral service, but we were so overcome with grief to even fathom a guess. The procession to Our Silent City in Kellogg was long, and the reverence paid to our procession line, by everyone stopping along the highway was amazing. The internment, followed by the balloons lifting on the breeze? No words.

The luncheon was another place to reconnect with people I’d not seen in years. If there’s a silver lining it’s that I got to see SO MANY PEOPLE, AND my favorite Great Aunt who is just shy of 102! Yes, really. She doesn’t look a day over 80 if you ask me.

Thank you to everyone who has shown support to my sister’s family and to all of us. Our lives will never be the same, but time has a way of marching forward whether or not we’re ready.

The High School added Trenton's Football Jersey number (52) to the statue out front. This is a shot of it during the day.

The High School added Trenton’s Football Jersey number (52) to the statue out front. This is a shot of it during the day.

And this is a shot of the memorial at night, with the red lights.

And this is a shot of the memorial at night, with the red lights.

This has hit Claire pretty hard. She added clover and peonies to the roses from the casket. She thought Trenton would get a kick out of that.

This has hit Claire pretty hard. She added clover and peonies to the roses from the casket. She thought Trenton would get a kick out of that.

We placed this flowers here in honor of Trenton. This dirt road continues from the gravel intersection where the accident happened.

These flowers were at the funeral, and we placed them here in honor of Trenton. This dirt road continues from the gravel intersection where the accident happened, and you can see the sunset. Hours upon hours of my childhood were spent here, and it’s with great sadness that we returned.

Note: Because I have my own child’s grief to help manage, we were able to do some “fun” things while on this impromptu trip. Over the next few days, I’ll be posting pictures. In the meantime, you can see a sneak peek here: ThisJoAnn on Instagram.

The Pothole Saga

Photo from 4.22.16

Photo from 4.22.16

“Hey, we gotta do somethin’ about the pothole at the Post Office.”
“Nah, there’s no rush. It’s been handled.”

Photo from 5.20.16

Photo from 5.20.16

“It’s been a few weeks. Have you done anything with that pothole at the Post Office?”
“Yep. The flag in the pylon kept falling over, so we taped it.”
“Good work!”

Edited to add: They fixed the pothole at the end of May! Now where are we going to go swimming?! 😉

Spring Selfie

April is almost over, and May is just around the corner! This is a busy time at school, etc., so, posting will be light!

Selfies 4.22.16

Stay tuned for more adventures!

Birthday Dragons

Claire made me baby dragons for my birthday! Red and Blue. Aren't they sweet?!

Claire made me baby dragons for my birthday! Red and Blue. Aren’t they sweet?!

Her Newest Creation

Destino Flame

Claire made him out of polymer clay!

Meet Destino Flame, the baby dragon. (Yes, his name ends in an ‘o.’ It’s like “Destiny,” but “tougher sounding.” We’re not sure he’ll need the extra toughness when he grows up to be a ferocious dragon, what with the ability to fly and breathe fire.)

Happy Valentine’s Day 2016

Hedgehog Valentine 2016

From Shoe Chef to Sous Chef

When Claire was really little (3, I think?) she’d get so excited to help Daddy in the kitchen. (I do the cooking during the week, and he loves to cook on the weekends.) One time, she said, “Momma! Daddy said I get to be the SHOE CHEF!” I’ll never forget that moment. Tonight, the Sous Chef and Chef were hard at work for tonight’s meal. To her, this is just the way things are supposed to be. I love it.

She doesn't even need to stand on a chair to cut things anymore! *sniffle*

She doesn’t even need to stand on a chair to cut things anymore! *sniffle*

…OSHA is happy about that. 😀

Breaking the Rules

Okay, normally, “The Rules” are: 1) if it’s not actively precipitating, and 2) if it’s above freezing, we’ll go to the park after school.

Momma broke the rules today, and we went to the park when it was below freezing!! Why? Daddy & Claire got Momma a new coat, and IT’S SO COMFY. Red, puffy, awesome COMFY. (I sense a conspiracy.)

Park Day 01.08.16

In related news, Claire found her favorite thing: ICICLES.

Claire "rescued" a big one!

Claire “rescued” a big one!

I found a unicorn at the park!

I found a unicorn at the park!

Icicle 01.08.16

Claire found a wand.

Claire found a wand.

Looks like we may have to amend “The Rules” after all… :)

The Yoda Approach to New Year Resolutions

I’ve always taken the Yoda approach to “New Year Resolutions,” in that I don’t make them. I either do something, or I don’t. (“Do or do not; there is no try.”) I don’t make a list of ways to improve, and I certainly don’t just think about it on the 1st of the calendar year.

I love my life. I’m content, and despite what the salespeople of the world are telling you, that is great! That is okay! THAT IS ENOUGH. Contentment doesn’t equate to laziness. (I have a To Do List, not a To Be List, and there’s a major difference!)

I have all I need, right here.
I am all I need, right here.
I am enough. I have enough.

I’m thankful every day for the life we’ve built. It took hard work, planning, and premeditation to get here, and I plan on being happy every day. THAT is the “happily ever after” we’re seeking. It DOES exist. (The key is that “happily” is an adverb, the WAY to live, not that everything is perfect. It means you can live happily every single day, and I truly believe that. I’ve done it, so I know it’s possible.)

That said, I wouldn’t turn down a duffel bag of unmarked bills, but that’s another story. 😀