Saturday, October 23, 2010

Grotto of the Redemption

We took a weekend and drove to Westbend Iowa to visit the Grotto of the Redemption.
"The Grotto is a composite of nine separate Grottos, each portraying a scene in the life of Christ. It includes the largest collection of precious stones and gems found anywhere in one location. The beautiful artistry has to be seen in order to be appreciated, and the message it inspires is beyond words."
"The Grotto is frequently considered the "Eighth Wonder of the World" and The Iowan magazine has described the Grotto as a "Miracle in Stone"
This was built mostly by Fr. Paul Dobberstein. It was his vision and he lead the construction and collection of rocks. How about that for using an interest and a talent for the glory of God?
"The designed purpose of the Grotto is to tell in silent stone made spiritually eloquent, the story of man's fall and his redemption by Christ, the savior of the world."

There is much symbolism in the way the rocks are displayed.

This scene represents Paradise Lost. Notice the stained glass window. It is lit up on the other side and is of Mary accepting the angel Gabriel's Annunciation. God's promise is fulfilled.
Behind Tom is the Annunciation window. The reverse of Paradise Lost.
The Word became Flesh.

The laying of Jesus in the tomb.
This is carved from one block of marble!
Zachary stopping to smell the flowers

Our Lord's Agony in the Garden

The Nativity surrounded by tons of petrified wood
Jesus' childhood home made of white quartz.
St Joseph is in the other corner with a saw.

Swans and geese on the lake
It was a beautiful weekend! We had dinner at the Wagon Wheel and went swimming in the hotel.

Four years ago we came here with the boys but they didn't remember the grotto. Dominic did remember the waffle iron in the hotel though. lol. That just makes me laugh.
It was a nice little get-away.

Vala's Pumpkin Patch

October 20th, Union Pacific treated us to Vala's Pumpkin Patch. I am so glad this can continue to be a family tradition. Every year there is something new and it has become a yearly event to look forward to. It's just part of the season of fall.
An old horse drawn school bus
Dominic and Xavier on the Tractor ride

Blaise didn't want to ride on the tractor until he was assured it wasn't scary. Those stuffed scare crows can be kinda creepy.
Corn box
duck races
Panning for rocks
...and arrow heads
the guys

How tall next fall?? We'll see. We keep growing in more ways than one!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Ozark Vacation

August 2010... Mom and Dad celebrated 40 years of marriage on August 15th and they invited us all on a vacation to remember.

We spent a week in Branson and then headed to Bull Shoals Lake for a houseboat where Aunt Ann, Uncle Pat, Mike and Jim joined us.

We arrived in Branson on Monday night. Tuesday, the 3 older boys, Tom and my parents went to Ripleys Believe it or Not Museum.

That night we got a taste of what Branson has to offer when we participated in a BBQ/sampler show in the condo's clubhouse right across the street. One of my favorite nights. The food was great and the entertainment was entertaining. Zachary really enjoyed it as he wanted to dance to all the music.

Wednesday and Thursday Tom and I took the 3 older boys to Silver Dollar City. Hot but fun. We stayed on the water rides enough to stay cool and drank a lot of water to stay hydrated.

On Thursday we toured Marvel Cave where we descended 500 feet and got to ride up part of the way on a train. It was amazing to see such a beautiful wonder of God's creation including all natural formations and waterfalls.

Here's the train that took us out.

Just before we left Silver Dollar City

We spent a lot of time in the pool at the clubhouse. It was just across the road and the water was perfect.
Friday we rode "the Ducks" It was the one thing the boys really wanted to do. So we got a tour on land and then drove it right into the water where Blaise and Dominic got to try their hand at the wheel.

Saturday morning we left Branson and drove to Bull Shoals Lake to begin our stay on the houseboat. The next day would be my parent's 40th wedding anniversary. These pictures are not necessarily in order.

One day we got a jetski for a couple hours.

Dominic caught his first fish on August 16th. Instead of throwing it back, he and Uncle Mike cut it up and used it for bait for future fish.

Mom and Dad brought their canoe and it got daily use.

The captian of our vessel...

Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad!! Sunday was the big day and we went to Yellville for 11:00 Mass where one of the petitions was for blessings for Steve and Carolyn on 40 years of marriage! That was planned, but get this... the recessional hymn just happened to be the same song as the recessional at their wedding 40 years ago! That was just by coincidence. I still can't get over that.
The song was"They'll know we are Christians by our Love" You can really tell these two are Christian by the fruit they have produced. Through many years of living their lives for God and helping others, they have been an excellent example of Christians to so many, especially their children. Thanks Mom and Dad! We love you!
This was the sunset we got that night.
back to the water the next day
Making toast with Zachary

Dominic got to be captian for a bit too.

Zachary reading the Three Little Pigs. It's one of his favorites.

Xavier.. still has his duck caller.

Here we are finding rocks and throwing them with the little ones. Xavier would only get in the water when we were docked so that's when we did most of our swimming. My favorite part of this houseboat was not having to be anywhere at any time. We could just enjoy being there. Good company and beautiful surroundings. What more could you want?

Yes Zachary is naked... he just had a bath in the lake.
Nightly campfires provided by the boys

These are the carp at the dock where we rented the boat

These are the travelers of the boat we rented from the dock

The last night there Mike caught a 23" catfish.

.. and he shared it

This is the boat we rented -a 14 sleeper. When we were out in the middle of the lake Dominic started feeling comfortable enought to start jumping off the top of that penthouse into the deep water! He got good at diving off the back too. After Blaise realized there were big fish in the water he didn't want to do much more swimming but he kept himself busy elsewhere.

We are very thankful for a safe and enjoyable vacation. Definitely something we will do again.