Simon

Mr. Inventor turned 16 a month ago! How time flies. I remember so clearly the loooong week of waiting after his due date before he finally arrived, on the hottest day that summer (I’m positive it was the hottest, anyway!). He was my shortest labor to that point, and I remember being slightly in shock that it was over so quickly. And now, since he is 16 and has moved away from home to begin a new job, I’ll start calling him by name on here, Simon. One less nickname to remember to use!

We all went together to buy him a tap and die set, which he had been wanting for a couple of years, for his birthday. It didn’t come in time, so Mr. Diligence went to town and bought a box of ice cream and some cones. He worked hard to make the biggest stack of ice cream possible on top of the cone, and then put it in the freezer. After we ate dinner, Simon asked, jokingly, “When am I going to get my chocolate ice cream cone?” Mr. Diligence had been teasing him that we were plotting to get him chocolate ice cream. Was Simon ever surprised when he was presented with this cone! Even though he shared a bit with his little sister, it took him two sittings to get through it.

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He was very pleased with his tap and die set when it came!

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And for those of you who are wondering, he is working for a mechanic, planning to start an apprenticeship with him after a 3-month trial period to make sure he wants to do it. He is living with the family, a lovely Christian family with eight children, about 4 hours from us across the mountains, on the West Coast.

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Back Home Again!

Yes, I know we’ve been home in New Zealand for around six weeks now. It has taken me awhile to get caught up on posting on here. I like to keep things in chronological order, because that’s just the way I am, so here we go.

This was our first evening home. We landed in Christchurch around 9:30 am, so got home around noon. We unloaded the van and I cooked lunch; in the afternoon I unpacked all the suitcases and plastic totes we had packed with books, fabric, and other treasures we brought home. We sure enjoyed the warmth of the house; a friend had come early that morning and started both fires for us. It was quite chilly outside, since it was still midwinter. We were used to the heat of midsummer in Ohio, of course, so the warm house was especially welcome. By evening, what with the difficulty sleeping sitting up on the airplane the night before, and the eight-hour time difference between the Eastern time zone of the United States and our time here, these boys fell asleep waiting for supper to be ready. We tried to wake them up to eat, but finally gave up and carried the two younger ones to bed. Mr. Diligence stayed all night on the couch. Little Miss wasn’t asleep, but she was imitating her brothers!

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A couple of mornings after we got home, we were treated to a visit from this pair of Paradise Ducks in our yard!

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Our first Sunday home, we went to church in Kaikoura, enjoying thoroughly the beautiful mountains. Some us us found out how much we had missed the mountains and the sea while we were gone!

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Little Miss was delighted to finally get to wear this dress, which a great-aunt had given her. Because of the long sleeves, I saved it to wear here, where it’s colder, rather than in Ohio where it was so hot.

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The cats were happy to be home. We picked them up on our way home from the airport, and they obviously remembered this place. We wondered if they would run away, but they were happy here right away. Esther was amused when she saw this scene one afternoon.

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This was our second Sunday home; we went to Waikari for church. It poured for a couple of hours, but the skies started to clear as we left, and then we saw this brilliant double rainbow!

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Looking back the other direction, this is what we saw.

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We greatly enjoyed our trip to America, but there is no place like home, and no place like New Zealand!

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One Last Adventure in America

We left Ohio to come home to New Zealand on the 24th of July. Our flight didn’t leave until evening, so we had the entire morning to finish packing—and we needed it! We had our baggage allowance pretty much maxed out, with nine pieces of checked luggage (only two weren’t big enough to pack 50 pounds into), nine carry-ons and nine personal bags. Air New Zealand has a limit of 15 pounds for a carry-on, so we had to weigh all of those, too. It took the morning to juggle things from bag to bag to get the weights right, and when we finally finished, we packed everything into the van and went to a local business to weigh them on their postage scale, since I don’t totally trust bathroom scales. Thankfully, we were fine with everything, and the job was finished by lunchtime. We ate lunch, then packed our sandwiches for the evening into our backpacks, to eat while we waited for the first plane in Cincinnati. We knew Air New Zealand would feed us—but that would be after takeoff in Houston at 10:00 at night!

I took a quick picture of everyone, just in case I needed to know, for some reason, what they were wearing on the trip. Here is Mr. Intellectual, ready to go home!

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We were actually running just a little early, so my father-in-law directed us along a back route that ran beside the Ohio River. We enjoyed seeing this barge going downriver, but then he had another surprise.

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He remembered the Anderson Ferry which runs across the river between Ohio and Kentucky. This ferry has been running since 1817—that’s 200 years now! He asked someone if it was easy to get to the airport from the ferry, and she said it was, so he paid the $5 fee and we got to cross on a ferry instead of a bridge! This was my first time ever to ride a ferry. We all enjoyed the quick crossing; it couldn’t have taken more than about five minutes.

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In no time, it seemed, we were driving off the boat into Kentucky, where the friendly woman who had assured us that it was easy to get to the airport led us right there; she said she had to go there herself. We really enjoyed this one last adventure before going home!

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Creation Museum

On our last weekend in Ohio, we went to the Creation Museum. We had been there twice before, but the children really wanted to go again. My nephew who lives in Ohio was turning six that weekend, and he wanted to go, and my sister who lives in Michigan had a birthday that weekend as well, so she and my mom came to Ohio for the weekend. Gayle’s mother and sister, and his brother and his family, also decided to go, so we had a group of around 25 people! We were thankful for people who had guest passes that they allowed us to use to get in. As always, the museum was fascinating.

We spent the morning touring the botanical gardens and the petting zoo. It was very hot and humid, but the gardens were gorgeous.

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One of our nieces discussing a huge dinosaur with my mom.

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Mr. Diligence with my sister.

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Black-eyed Susans always make me think of my dad. They were one of his favorite flowers. He claimed it was because he knew what they were!

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There was papyrus growing in the bog garden. I had never seen it before, but recognized it from pictures. Fun to see it for real!

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The koi pond was beautiful.

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My brother had an extra leash for their wandering toddler, so we put it on Little Miss for awhile.

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The Garden of Eden.

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The result of the Fall—death.

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Life after the Fall—hard work, thorns and thistles to contend with.

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Methuselah talked to us about life just before the Flood.

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This dinosaur moved and roared!

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A diorama depicting people trying to escape from the rising Flood waters.

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Praising God after the Flood.

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One fascinating room, new since our last visit, held an amazing collection of insects!

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Just before we left, Mr. Sweetie and Mr. Intellectual got to hold a snake.

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Book Review—Will Not See

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About the Book

Book title: Will Not See
Author: Chautona Havig
Release date: August 29, 2017
Genre: Christian Fiction / contemporary / suspense (light)

My Thoughts:

Whew, what a book! Most of the time anymore, I am able to exercise self-discipline with books, and put them down when I need to get on with helping someone with school, or cooking a meal, or whatever needs to be done. This one, though— I was almost glad that I needed to be resting, recuperating from recent trauma, when Will Not See came in to be reviewed! I literally read it in one day. Not quite one session, because I had to stop for meals and reading to the children and a few other things, but I devoured the last half of the book in one go.

Imagine waking up in a motel room, not knowing who you are. The identification in her purse said she was Victoria Jeffries—but where did she live? What did she do for a living? Who did she know? Victoria had no clue. She could not remember anything at all.

Enter Ella Weeks—main character in None So Blind. She had experienced much the same loss of memory less than a year earlier. After going to the hospital to talk to Victoria, she helped the young woman go back home and provided support as she tried to figure out her life. But when strange, menacing men started coming around and threatening Vikki, as she soon became known, how could the women deal with that? What were the men wanting, anyway? What had Vikki been into before this happened?

Will Not See is quite different from None So Blind. Besides the story of the memory loss, and having to rebuild her life, Vikki’s story has a crime mystery woven in. That’s why I couldn’t put it down: I had to find out if she would be all right or not. As always in Chautona’s books, though, I found gems that I loved. One was a quote from Ella’s husband, “But remember Who is really in control. All our little attempts to make everything go to our plans are illusions we give ourselves when we take our eyes off the Lord.

Bottom line? I thoroughly enjoyed Will Not See, and will probably read it again soon—more slowly, to get more out of it, and I can hardly wait for the third book in the series. Somehow, we have to get to the bottom of what is causing these losses of memory—is it a strange virus, a drug that the victims have somehow inadvertently taken, or some weird scientist’s experiment, or something else altogether? I want to know!

WARNING: Prostitution is mentioned a few times, in passing, and Vikki was raped as a young girl. There is nothing explicit.

The Author’s Synopsis:

When Vikki Jeffries wakes up in a Rockland hotel with no idea of who she is  and why she can’t remember…well, anything, the Rockland medical community begins to take a closer look at what may have happened to cause a second case of inexplicable amnesia. But for Vikki, this is more than a medical anomaly. It’s her life. What is she doing in Rockland, thousands of miles away from her home in Apache Junction, Arizona? Who is she? Why is no one looking for her? Or are they?

The secrets of a past she’s discovering she doesn’t want to know lay locked away in a memory that refuses to acknowledge their existence.

When Brandon Marana finds his neighbor struggling to open her front door, his quiet life becomes a race to protect Vikki and himself from people who are determined to find her. He’s falling in love with her–but he shouldn’t. He’s a Christian. She’s not. But the more she depends on him to know who she is and learn why these things keep happening to her, the stronger those ties become.

About the Author:

Chautona Havig lives and writes in California’s Mojave Desert with her husbnd and five of her nine children.  Through her novels, she hopes to encourage Christians in their walk with Jesus.

Guest post from Chautona Havig:

The circle of death swirls on the screen and it shifts. The bank balance appears, and with it, my heart sinks. It’s been a tough few months, financially. The bottom line proves it.

My reaction? Inhale. Exhale. “Okay, now we know the worst. We can do something about it.”

My husband, on the other hand, suffers a definite blow. Kevin might not sleep that night. Instead, he’ll mull over what we could have done differently, how we can make changes, if he’s a failure at this thing called life. He’ll pray—for hours.

They say ignorance is bliss. And sometimes, that’s true. It’s also a personality thing, I think. I tend to be a “let me have your worst”kind of gal. But when the negative arrives, I also tend to want to shield Kevin from it all. I don’t know how he can worry so much. He can’t fathom how I can turn it off.

But sometimes those personality things go deeper—into what can be serious faults. It has been said, “There are none so blind as those who will not see. The most deluded people are those who choose to ignore what they already know.”

Or, in the words of Jeremiah, “Now hear this, O foolish and senseless people, who have eyes but do not see, who have ears but do not hear.”

What does this have to do with not seeing?

As I work on the Sight Unseen series, one recurring theme happens, of course. Memory loss—the removal of all insight into one’s past. You can hear who you were, be informed of what you did and why others think you did it, but you can’t know your own self the way you once did. It’s a fresh slate, and it can be a good thing in some respects.

Those around you can now see the difference between habits and personality traits—true dislikes and those conditioned by life. What might have been a fear once could be gone if the cause of that fear is blotted out.

But even for these fictional characters, truth doesn’t change. In None So Blind,Ella takes her memory loss and uses it as an opportunity to reinvent herself,if you will. And you know what? If you asked her family about it, they’d tell you that it fits her personality. That take-charge, gotta get ’er done attitude Dani may have used in different ways, but both “manifestations”of the woman had those qualities. Sure, Ella’s was tempered by recent experience, but not much.

Vikki Jeffries, is almost the antithesis of Ella in that respect.

The past is in the past. It scares her. Is it because she doesn’t know it? Because she’s frightened by the unknown? We don’t know. But what we do know is anything associated with that past, even the few very personal items she finds, she rejects. It’s as if ignorance of them will protect her from them. Where Ella runs to face her problems, Vikki runs from them.

But despite those differences, I find it interesting that both women did the same thing, basically—just at different times.

Before her “episode,”Ella chose to blind herself to her faults. She knew them. Lived with them daily, but couldn’t face or address them. So, she “refused to see.”

Vikki—we don’t know. But I think the story shows that she couldn’t blind herself to truth before her episode. As much as she might have ached to, she just couldn’t. Now that the opportunity is here, however, she grasps it and if she insists on squeezing her eyes shut indefinitely, it may cost her everything—her life. Her soul.

Philippians 4:8, “…whatever is true.”

They say ignorance is bliss. Well, “they”also say, “Truth hurts.”And sometimes it does. But so do the consequences of that ignorance. I guess the next time the bank balance dips low, I won’tbe handling the fallout alone. Then again, one can always pray that it doesn’t dip low! I think we’ll start there.

Click here to purchase your copy.

To visit more of the blog stops on this tour, go here.

To enter a fun giveaway, go here.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author for my honest review, which I have given. I was not required to write a positive review and have not been compensated for it in any way. All opinions expressed are my own.

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More Fun Out-and-About in Ohio

A favorite toy while we were at Grandpa’s house was this go-cart. The boys even rode it to their aunt’s house several times! It was under the tree that nearly fell on Mr. Inventor, and got broken, but a cousin welded it together again.

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There was a family gathering, for Gayle’s mother’s family, one Sunday afternoon, and they had borrowed this train. It was in use all afternoon; the children never got tired of riding. The men took turns driving!

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Mr. Inventor and Mr. Diligence clowning.

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One of Gayle’s cousins invited us to swim with her children one day, and the boys loved it.

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Little Miss was very cautious, but ended up all wet. She stayed on the steps.

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When we went to the same cousin’s home for the evening, her husband offered to take anyone who wanted to up the grain elevator his family runs. Gayle and all the boys went. They were over a hundred feet above the ground here!

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A highlight of the climb was seeing Grandpa’s place!

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The house at the end of the catwalk is where we were for the evening.

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On our last full day in Ohio, we had a picnic at a park in the nearby town. My mom and sister had come from Michigan for the weekend, and my brother and his family who live in Ohio had joined us. We had a lovely afternoon together, and on our way back to Grandpa’s for the evening we stopped to have a quick look at this double-barreled covered bridge.

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I remember taking a class here as part of a field trip, some 20 years ago when I taught at the local Christian school. I’ve always loved the view out this window of the bridge!

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An Evening With the Family

One Saturday while we were in Ohio, almost all of Gayle’s family were together. One niece is in Africa, and a couple of other people were missing for one reason or another, but we had a good time just being together all day. In the afternoon, I let a niece use my camera, and she got some interesting pictures. I kept a number of the 100+ pictures, and then took some more in the evening myself.

This is the setup for cooking chicken for supper. They built a fire in that tire rim, and the food was put on the “table”.

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Mr. Inventor with a kite.

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Grandma’s flowers.

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Gayle spent a lot of time that week trimming this hedge behind the house.

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Apparently this sign was something Gayle helped make in Young Folks—he can’t remember what it was for. The children had fun with it.

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Our old van. When we moved from Michigan to New Zealand, we drove this van to the Cincinnati airport, and Gayle’s parents drove it back to their place. At this point, it is undriveable. The back bumper actually rusted so much it fell off!

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Gayle’s parents house.

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Getting ready for supper.

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Little Miss with a cousin.

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The pinata that was the highlight of the evening for the children.

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Going after the goodies! I was glad that, besides candy, there were also little toys.

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More Fun in Ohio

We enjoyed several family reunions while we were in Ohio. The one with my husband’s father’s extended family was held at a state park near Dayton. The children had a lot of fun playing around the pond. Grandpa brought a few fishing rods, but only two fish were caught.

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I enjoyed seeing the plants around the trails. This was teasel, just about to bloom.

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Mr. Inventor climbed around in the trees, getting bobbers and lures that had been lost by other fishermen.

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What he didn’t realize was that there was poison ivy on the trees! He spent the next week, until the day we left, quite miserable with poison ivy all over his arms and legs. I treated him with oatmeal a few times, and we also tried many other remedies. We were very thankful that it dried up the day before we left for home; we were worried that if the Immigration officials saw it when we arrived in New Zealand that he would be turned back. We thought about getting a doctor’s statement as to what it was, but thankfully, because it dried up, he was able to wear a long-sleeved shirt and hide it.

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The shelter house at the park, where we had the reunion. It was good to see many cousins, aunts and uncles again!

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The pond, which will always be remembered by our family as the the place where Mr. Inventor got poison ivy! It was really beautiful.

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Fun in Ohio

We’ve been home for three weeks already, but I’m having trouble finding time to work on my blog. I’ve had a lot of paperwork to do, for one thing and another, and spent a couple of days in hospital last week with a miscarriage. Now that the paperwork and figuring is nearly done, maybe I can catch up the blog!

Grandpa and Grandma had a wading pool for the little ones. Mr. Imagination and Little Miss played in it a lot on hot days—of which there were quite a few while we were there!

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This was a very enjoyable evening at my brother-in-law’s house. There were four large families together, with a total of around 50 people!

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Little Miss seemed to love this cousin the most of the three big girls in this family. I wondered if that was because she gave her rides on the horses?

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One of our young nephews borrowed my camera one afternoon while we were there. I deleted most of his pictures, but liked this one of their kitten.

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My husband’s sister organized a canoe/kayak trip down a local creek (we would have called it a river in Michigan!). It went much more smoothly than the one in Michigan! No one was in danger this time. Little Miss and I stayed home to take naps, but everyone else went. I went along to help pick them up at the end, and Mr. Inventor gave Little Miss a quick ride in the kayak.

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A lot of the canoeists weren’t really ready to be done at the end; it was a hot day and the water felt good! This was the aunt who organized the trip, heading downstream with a bunch of little boys after her.IMG_2931

One afternoon I woke up from a nap to find that a storm had just blown in. I went downstairs and looked out the kitchen window just in time to see this branch fall, just outside the house! The wind was blowing a gale (we heard estimates of 80 miles per hour). I decided to postpone the trip to town to get online at the library!

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I remembered that the van was parked under a tree, so I ran outside to move it out of harm’s way. While doing that, I saw this branch down in the front yard, and the tree across the road half down. After the storm was over, I heard what happened to my boys. Gayle and the boys were around the corner, helping build a fence for my sister-in-law. Mr. Inventor was standing under a tree to close a gate after his cousin drove through when the storm began. His aunt called him to come over to the garage. He did. His cousin drove through the gate, and two-thirds of the tree fell down—right where Mr. Inventor had been standing a minute before! We were very thankful to still have him.

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Mr. Inventor and Mr. Sweetie were so happy to catch some wild kittens one morning! They played with them for a few minutes, but never caught them again.

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The Ark Encounter

While we were in Ohio, we wanted to go to Kentucky to visit Ken Ham’s Ark Encounter. This is a life-size model of Noah’s Ark, with an incredible museum inside showing how Noah and his family could have cared for all the animals and provided for themselves. There are many other amazing exhibits, as well; my favorite was one displaying various Bibles through the centuries. The ones from before the invention of the printing press were especially amazing to me. I was fascinated to see the hand-copied manuscripts. They were so neatly done they looked just as if they had been printed by machine!

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Bird cages and food storage.

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Mr. Imagination admiring the bow end of the boat.

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There were displays of various animals, each cage representing a different “kind” from which many of today’s animals could have descended. Fascinating!

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Noah and his family praying as the Flood began.

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The kitchen area. Little Miss stood and stared at this scene for a long time. I believe she thought the person was real and would move! There was a sound recording of someone chopping food, although the mannequin didn’t move.

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Ham and his wife in their private quarters.

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Something I had never thought of before: They have tiny gardens under the skylight for fresh food! Sure makes sense to me.

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One exhibit that really intrigued me was the room that showed Bibles from the past thousand years. These are hand-copied; this first one is a Latin Bible from somewhere around 1200-1300 if I remember correctly, and the second one is from Ethiopia in the 1700-1800s. I couldn’t believe the perfection of the hand-copied Bibles from the Middle Ages! I never dreamed they could be so neat, looking just like a printed book.

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Little Miss and her cousin, tired at the end of the day but having fun together.

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