Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Retrospective Gardener

Most posts about gardening focus on the present - what people are growing in their gardens in the current season or about the future - their plans for their gardens and what they hope to achieve with lots of hard work, determination and hopefully, equal doses of sunshine and rain. This is a post about looking back which is why I've entitled it the 'retrospective gardener'. Sometimes it is easy to become discouraged when you are establishing a garden. The seeds that failed to germinate, the plants that withered on a hot day when you had been away, the lovely lettuces that were munched in one night by a hungry caterpillar or worse the garden that was destroyed by rampaging animals - the neighbour's cows, wild rabbits or pesky possums. Then sometimes nature unleashes her fury - wind, storms, floods, fires and you have to start all over again. I am thankful that this has not been our experience and have great admiration for those who do not give up on gardening after such events!

Then there are the days when it seems all too much like hard work, particularly if you have a larger acreage. This is what I face in a climate which is a both a blessing and a curse. There are certain weeds that are so invasive - you rip it out and it grows back. This is one of the plants that I loathe - morning glory. Nothing glorious about it here. It smothers trees and shrubs and even dares to take over the tibouchinas - I do declare it is jealous, the purple flowers of the tibouchinas are far more resplendent.

I was feeling despondent about our garden in the bush, the attempts to grow gardens under gum trees which cast shade and compete for nutrients in the soil. The mistakes we had made when we first planted vegetable gardens. I was being very pessimistic about the pests that inhabit my garden after discovering leeches attached to skin and so many ticks embedding into my legs - they are really awful at the moment after a wet and ever so humid summer. I had just spent a morning pulling off the morning glories - I usually snip them at the base and wait for them to die back before ripping them off the trees they have so ferociously entangled. 'Is it all worth it?' I was asking myself. 'Why did we choose to buy a property that needed so much work?' Those idealistic dreams and notions of romantic country gardens with colour co-ordinated flower beds and perfectly planted potagers with not a solitary weed that I had gushed over in magazines were not helpful at all!

And then I recalled the words cut out from a magazine that decorate my family vision poster that state 'This Other Eden.' This is my garden of Eden after the fall - there will always be weeds (and snakes - this is Australia after all!) but we have faithfully tended it and achieved so much over the past nine years. I needed to stop and look back and give thanks and recall the lessons we have learned from our time in the garden. And that is what I am about to do right now - point by point, to remind myself that I need this garden as much as it needs me. That God is being faithful to His promises in His Word - that our land is yielding produce and the trees of our fields are bearing fruit (Leviticus 26 3-5)

So here goes - the purpose of this post to encourage us all to garden with gratitude! By sharing this list I hope I can encourage others to keep on gardening and to document the history of their own garden. Its successes and failures, the lessons learned, the fruit of our labours!

1. We built a chicken house and a really big chicken run. We have enjoyed free- range eggs from our various flocks over the years. We have lost some to foxes and goannas have taken eggs. We have relocated numerous pythons each summer who find their way into the coop but have not yet had a snake swallow a chook. Lessons learned - build a secure fence and fix holes as soon as you find them. Daily check feed and water. Provide a clean and cozy straw- filled abode with plenty of perches and nesting boxes. Ensure a few cloves of crushed garlic find their way into the kitchen scraps. Our latest flock which arrived in the spring have been faithfully laying right through the hot days of summer. They all look happy and healthy. We are no experts but must be doing something right!

2. We established vegetable gardens and were prepared to move them and build new raised beds when we realized that the first plot had too many drawbacks. We had wanted our gardens close to the orchard and chook house but it was too far from the house - trekking down in the rain to pick leaves for a salad is no fun! We did manage to grow some produce here but the garden did not flourish. Too much shade and depleted soil on account of too many gum trees in that area. We had to find a better location!

Vegetable gardens mark II - raised beds were created from recycled crates. 3 long beds in total on a concrete pad where an old ramshackle dwelling once stood. It was such an eyesore - just seeing it gone was progress. This proved to be a much better location for our food gardens. Closer to the house, better sunlight and we now appreciated the value of manure!

The first harvest! Spurred on by the results from our new gardens and experiencing the delights of eating fresh, organic produce that we had grown ourselves we set out to improve the packing crate beds by encasing them in a more durable material - corrugated iron. We also decided to totally enclose and net the garden after the possums and bandicoots discovered our new garden and were hosting banquets' and inviting their neighbours the bush rats!

Almost finished - just needed a roof!

It ain't pretty but it works for us! I have christened it 'Mount Eden'. If you are from New Zealand you will realize what facility is located in that part of Auckland! I know it looks like a prison exercise yard. We are hoping that the beans flourish and grow tall to cover the netting.

So far so good. One of the varieties is called abundant harvest - I hope it lives up to its name!

2. Having established our gardens our next achievement was discovering what grew well in our climate and which plants preferred our acidic soil. We found that this could change from season to season. Weather was a huge factor. One season we had tonnes of zucchini, the next year the constant rain saw them rot before setting any fruit. Tomatoes were difficult to grow on account of the grubs but cherry tomatoes did better. We may never be self sufficient but we may become rhubarb sufficient! And lettuces and other leafy greens do better in the autumn!

3. We discovered that old bath tubs make great beds for raised gardens! Grow something that will spill over the side. In our climate, ceylon spinach flourishes. See the mulch in the background? Sugar cane mulch is my best friend - I just want to hug those bales when my husband unloads them from the ute. Weed suppressant, moisture retainer and to think once upon a time I thought garden beds covered in straw were unsightly!

4. Discovering plants that are real kitchen gems that you harvest and they just keep on growing giving what seems like an endless supply. Lebanese cress is one of those plants. It grows in a big pot near the kitchen door. Having problems with frilly lettuces bolting? Still want something attractive for the salad bowl that tastes good and makes the most gorgeous garnish for savoury party food? Try growing Lebanese cress - it is now one of my 'must haves/cannot do without' garden plants.

A simple but delicious lunch - egg and cress sandwiches. The bread is home made - not sourdough on this occasion but Annabel Langbein's 'Busy Person's Bread' from her book the 'Free Range Cook' which is so moist and delicious, especially when made with freshly milled whole wheat flour and packed with sunflower seeds. The eggs of course are from our chickens and even the tomato was found on a robust self- seeded vine nowhere near the vegetable garden! My own pictures which I cannot get to upload in the right position are making me feel hungry so its time to conclude this post and I have only just started to document our progress in the garden. In my next post I will show you some of the fruits of our labour including some of the more unusual tropical fruits we are attempting to grow here which are hopefully going to be coming into production next year.

I wish I had taken more 'before' photos. It really gives you a real appreciation of how much has been achieved when you can look back and see what it was like when we first moved to this property . Even Bear Grylls would have had problems finding his way through the undergrowth. Lantana was rampant and encroaching on the house. Rubbish was strewn all over the property - hundreds of plastic pots and plant labels were evidence of its former life as a wholesale nursery which the owner just tossed into the bush. Beer and whisky bottles were partially buried under shrubs. Yes, we have come a long way! Still a long way to go and when it all seems too much and I am found once again complaining about how much work is required, I have to become a retrospective gardener and look back with thanksgiving for everything this garden means to me and is providing for my family. It is not just a place to garden. It is a home and a place where you truly do live close to nature!

'He will make her wilderness like Eden.
And her desert like the garden of the Lord;
Joy and Gladness will be found in it,
Thanksgiving and the voice of melody.'

Isaiah 51.3

With Love and Joy and Gratitude for a Garden

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Hurrah for Hats!

We are having an Indian summer. Soaring heat and humidity - the perfect recipe for a bad hair day and a sun induced headache. I took a trip into town to go to the Farmer's markets today, the temperature was rising, it was going to be a scorcher and as per usual, on my way out I grabbed the one accessory I cannot do without - my hat.

For as long as I can remember, I have had a fascination with hats and have always loved wearing them. I don't just wear them for sun protection, although this is a very good reason for wearing a hat. I wear them in winter to keep my head warm but the main reason I wear them is because I love to wear them - period! This sometimes does set me apart - I like to find unusual styles and I love vintage hats, particularly those from the Edwardian era - remember the movie 'Miss Potter' starring Renee Zellweger? This is one of my favourite movies and she wore so many different gorgeous hats - some quite quirky ones too! I was in hat heaven! If you have not seen this movie I highly recommend it.

This is the hat I am wearing this summer. It has a wide brim that has wire in it so you can adjust it to suit your face. It means the brim doesn't flop down into your eyes when you are driving but it really shields your face from the sun. It is lightweight and its neutral cream colour trimmed with ecru, means it accessorizes well with most outfits. A little matching rose ruffle on the side adds a decorative finishing touch. It is one of the best summer hats I have owned.

I really love navy blue hats or French navy as I used to know it in England. Most of the winter hats I own are navy and made of velvet. I have a weakness for hats made of velvet and could not quite believe it when I found this hat perched on the end of an antique dressing table in a secondhand furniture store. The price on the tag was $5 but the label inside stated 'Made in Europe'. It fitted perfectly. It is my winter hat that I wear on cooler days in other seasons too. I call it my 'Miss Potter' hat and I absolutely adore it - I think it is the bow on the end that so endears it to me. My daughter would say it is a granny hat but I say it is vintage!

I have another navy blue hat I sometimes wear during colder weather. It is also velvet and looking a little dusty as the photo shows - it has been some time since I last wore it! My husband bought it for me when we lived in Nelson in New Zealand. It was hand made by a local designer. It is quite' bohemian' and I 'm not really sure if it is me but because it was a gift from my husband in the early years of our marriage I will treasure it always. It used to have a hat pin with glass beads that held back the front brim on one side. I have used different brooches over the years to adorn it but I'm thinking of re-instating the hat pin - I have lots of beads but where to find a hat pin?

Every girl with a collection of hats needs somewhere to hang her hat. My hats were stuffed into drawers until I found this hall stand at a garage sale. It is just outside the master bedroom. I often hang my bag and scarves here too. Coats would be too bulky hung on this stand - I'm sure it was designed to be a hat stand and meant for me - it was found at a garage sale after all!

Hope you have enjoyed seeing some of my hat collection. Once upon a time women wore hats and wore them well. Hats were not just not for going to church or to a wedding but were worn on all sorts of occasions. Men also wore hats and wore them well. The photograph above is of my grandfather - I never knew him, he died before I was born but doesn't he look so dapper, so smart? My father always wore a trilby hat so maybe hat wearing is in my blood! The post cards are from my grandmother's collection - the card on the left is an actual photograph of a group of people in Edwardian England enjoying a picnic at the park. Most of the men, women and young people are wearing hats, their Sunday best perhaps? Was this a Sunday school picnic? They are sipping tea from real china cups. It is a fading photograph of an era when there was no such word as casual. Hats are back in vogue for days at the horse races - that is not my lifestyle but I want to wear hats - so I do. Why wait for a wedding invitation or a scorching summer's day?

Do you wear hats? Do you have a hat collection? What is your favourite hat? Are you brave enough to wear a style that is a little different to the usual cotton, totally not flattering 'bucket' hat so popular in Australia? What are your reasons for choosing to wear a hat? I must let you know I have pale skin which easily burns but have no sun damage on my skin and very few wrinkles at the age of 44 - hurrah for hats!

With Love and Joy,

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Sweet Cucumber Pickles

All summer long I have been harvesting cucumbers, each day bringing in armfuls and piling them up on the kitchen island. It was largely thanks to the children who sowed the seed rather generously and a very wet summer - they say you reap what you sow and that is exactly what happened. Every salad had cucumber in it, it was minced and added to Greek yogurt along with finely chopped mint and children on occasion, were spotted eating them whole, straight from the vine! Then the neighbour started leaving me lots of his cucumbers, he too was having a bumper harvest. His were a variety called 'white Russian'; we grew 'burpless' and Lebanese cucumbers. I couldn't even give them away at church - it seems everyone was awash with cucumbers or maybe they just didn't like them. There was no way we were going to use up all these cucumbers so they were turned into pickles - so easy to make. Have you ever tried them? My husband and children love them; they go into sandwiches and are the perfect accompaniment to quiches and other savoury dishes. They are sometimes called 'bread and butter' pickles because I guess that's exactly how you eat them - on bread and butter. I do like them topped on a slice of cheese on a wholewheat cracker though! This is how I make mine.

You will need

4 kilos of cucumbers (that's about 8.8lbs) - very approximate. You could make more or less and adjust the amount of brine needed.
5 onions
3 cloves of garlic tied in muslin
2 red or green capsicums (bell peppers) - I like the red for contrast.
3 tablespoons celtic sea salt (or ordinary table salt but I prefer to use good quality salt)
1 litre of cold water (about 0.264 US gallons) - or more if needed to ensure all vegetables are covered
4 cups raw sugar
5 cups cider vinegar
2 tsps tumeric (don't omit this - it gives your pickles a lovely golden colour)

1. Prepare your cucumbers and other vegetables - Slice the cucumber thinly; this is where a mandolin slicer is invaluable - it gives you uniform, thin slices and saves you so much time. There is no need to peel the cucumbers!

2. Make a brine - pour cold water into a large bowl or pan, dissolve the salt and soak your vegetables for at least 3 hours.

3. Drain your vegetables well and put into a pan suitable for preserving - I use a big stainless steel crock pot. Add the remaining ingredients and bring them to the boil on the stove top.

4. Stir gently ensuring that all the sugar has dissolved.

5. Remove the bag of garlic and pour your pickles into sterilized jars and seal immediately.

I keep my jars of pickles in the fridge and in previous summers they have been used up within a month. It is now into autumn and we still have quite a number of jars left. I have always assumed these are a 'fridge pickle', i.e one that does not keep indefinitely, that needs to be used up within a couple of months but I would like to find out how long other people who are into pickles keep theirs. Any advice would be appreciated - I am still a novice at preserving!

What kind of pickles do you get into?

With Love and Joy,

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Are we there yet? Traveling by Train with a Family of Nine

In my last post I shared about the preparations for our family holiday in New Zealand which involved our family of nine using trains, planes and automobiles to reach our destination. In this post I cover train travel and I have included some specifics for those of you living in or visiting Australia who may be considering using the XPT Brisbane to Sydney service and are traveling with a family - learn from our experience!

Not the view from the train window! This is another shot from our NZ album. However, there were a few scenic interludes as we came into the Sydney region - sandstone cliffs bathed in morning light and boats bobbing in the bays.

We needed to get to the airport and traveling by train was the cheapest option by far for our family of nine. A little apprehensive about undertaking a journey through the night of over 8 hour's duration but we thought it would lessen the likelihood of delays - no traffic jams as you might experience on the freeway. It would ensure that we were in Sydney with sufficient time to check in at the airport for our mid- morning flight - what could go wrong? We booked online and printed off the tickets, the booking process was totally hassle free and I was impressed that all my children under 15 could travel for just one dollar each. We had chosen to travel economy which proved to be a mistake - never again, not if traveling through the night! The seats were uncomfortable with very little leg room. The train was crowded and on boarding we found people sitting in our reserved seats - thankfully they moved to their allocated seats when asked to do so but other passengers embarking down the line had to get staff to assist them to move on those who had taken occupancy of their seats. As the train left the station I was already starting to regret our 'economizing'. The swearing and offensive language littering the conversations of passengers around us was going to make this journey memorable for all the wrong reasons. The older teenagers had brought their laptops and with headphones they were able to 'escape' from the immediate environment. Why hadn't I thought of that? Which leads me to my first tip for any long train or bus journey.

1. Take a laptop if you own one, an ipod or MP3 player in case you need to 'switch off' from the atmosphere around you. I was rather envious of my daughter watching a movie and my son listening to his Christian music! Next time I would buy myself a cheap MP3 player and take along my favourite worship music and teaching. No matter what, for any lengthy journey you will need some form of distraction to alleviate boredom. For my younger children I had new pads and coloured pencils, the thirteen and eleven year old had mini crossword and word-find search books. I avoided small toys and puzzles with lots of loose pieces - I had no intention of crawling under seats to retrieve inevitable dropped items!

2.Sit older children next to younger children - not only can they whisper instructions and reprimands but can assist them with drink bottles, take them to the toilet if necessary and in our situation, provide distractions and later on a shoulder or knee to sleep on! This lessens the decibel level of excited chatter of young children sitting together which might annoy other passengers but in reality it didn't matter - it was drowned out by the noise of the adults around us. My children were the ones setting the example of how one behaves on a train.

I was starting to become very concerned about a group of young men who were intoxicated and starting to behave aggressively with no respect for other passengers or adherence to the no smoking rules. They were standing outside the toilets and blatantly lighting up cigarettes. My protective mother hormones were going into overdrive as I observed their interactions and wondered how long it would be before a fight broke out. I did not want my children to witness this! The smoke alarms were going off and the soon familiar announcements and warnings of the consequences (being removed from the train at the next station if caught) were coming across the PA system.

To ensure the safety of my children I had to send them to other toilets further back in the train and reminded my teenage daughters under no circumstances to go to this toilet when this group of men were standing outside - this was for a good portion of the journey. Eventually rail staff intervened and it soon became apparent that at the next stop some of them would be removed from the train. This caused an extensive delay as our train waited in the station for the police to arrive to deal with the unruly passengers - one would be placed under arrest. The train was locked down with the offenders on board and the staff on the platform waiting to give statements to the police - I'm serious! Okay, this is why it tells me in the information card in my seat pocket that transit police may be on board for certain journeys but not on the night that we traveled!

He slept through all the dramas on our XPT journey to Sydney and even went to sleep on the scenic railway trip in NZ!

With the incident resolved and the main trouble makers removed, our journey by rail continued without further incident. The children fell asleep and I became absorbed in my book. We were now aware though that the lengthy delay was going to impact us - we were arriving at the train station at the time when we supposed to be checking in at the airport. I had already rung the airline to say we were running late. On our arrival at Central station I was sent on ahead to buy the tickets for our short transfer by train to the airport and my husband and children followed. With only one 'where are you?' call needed between our mobiles ( I advise do carry them and have them ready to answer) they did manage to find me with tickets all ready to feed into auto gates and we made it to the airport - once again I was designated the runner and sent on ahead to find the check-in desks for our airline. They were of course at the other end of the terminal. I arrived puffing and panting to find the longest queue I have ever seen since I went up to see Star Wars at the movies in 1977! Yeah, the plane was late and our mad dash had been for nothing!

On the scenic railway trip at Coromandel - a much more relaxing train journey even with wooden seats!

Enough of our rail travel dramas - here are more of my tips for taking a family on a long train trip.

3. Check out the reputation of the train service - is it safe to travel at night?

If you can afford it go first class. For our return trip on the XPT service we paid the extra hundred dollars for all the family to be in the first class compartments - and it was worth it! More comfortable seats, a lot more leg room and no intoxicated passengers. No one playing rap music without headphones, no swearing - we were able to have a few pleasant conversations with passengers around us. A totally different experience to our first trip. Remember each country will have its own unique rail travel experience - both good and bad. Don't be surprised if people don't give up their seats to pregnant women or elderly people - I was prepared for this when visiting the UK when obviously pregnant and using public transport but I was left standing so many times it became quite apparent that manners and regards for others are in serious decline in my country of birth. Thank those who do give up their seat for you and teach your children to immediately offer their seat up for an adult on a crowded bus or train. Smile at people and be courteous even if you are in a rush. Stressing out and speaking in an agitated tone about your experience will not get you there any faster. Calmly discuss your next move and keep each member of the family informed with clear instructions and keep visually checking that they have hold of their bags and that younger members are not being left behind if you do have to run for a train! Try to stick together, even if this means some members of the family are standing during the shorter bus or train trips - don't send your children down the far end of a carriage for an empty seat - the risk of losing sight of them as the train fills up and possibly missing the stop is just not worth it!

4. Take a change mat for babies and be prepared to learn new contortion skills as you attempt to change a wriggly baby in the confines of the toilet of a train which like the plane has a fold down change table. I can tell you it is a lot harder to change a baby in the train toilet, especially one that is thundering and jolting along.

5. Take a small pillow - this is something I did not do and I regretted it. You could soon spot the seasoned economy train passengers - they arrived with pillows and earplugs!

6. Food - you can bring your own food onto the train but as we were traveling through the night decided that we would not need to carry food or drink apart from water. I personally would avoid juice, soft drinks/sodas - not only may they have adverse affects on your child's behaviour and hype them up further for the journey but if they are spilled you now have a sticky mess to clean up and drinks can be easily knocked over on a jolting train. It is entirely up to you - weigh up what is going to work out best for your own family and budget - to carry food or chance the buffet on board. We chanced the buffet on the return trip - meals were reasonably priced but typical foil packaged jobs - pleasant surprise to find no artificial ingredients in my pasta dish but my husband's chicken breast was fairly dry. Kids meals came with water bottles and Thomas the Tank Engine colouring books and pencils. I ordered macaroni and cheese for them - their favourite dish. No wait, my macaroni and cheese is their favourite, not the Country Link version as one of my twin girls announced for the whole carriage to hear -' This is not like yours mum - yours is the best, this is terrible!' I tasted it and on this occasion I didn't mind that they didn't finish all the food on their plate!

6. In summertime do bring a jacket, sweatshirt or cardigan - the carriages are air-conditioned and it was working well on the night we traveled as my husband found out! No blankets on the train unless you have chosen a sleeper carriage!

7. At the station - look up, most of the signs directing you are overhead! If you are not sure if you are heading in the right direction or about to board the right train ask someone, it wasn't totally automated, there were rail employees at the station but I didn't see the fat controller (couldn't resist slipping that in!) Once on the train try to remember the names of the stations you will pass through before you have to disembark - it is easy to miss your station if you are not paying attention!

8. Comfortable shoes are a must, especially if you have to make a mad dash - wear heels at your own peril!

9. Have your younger children dressed in bright or distinctive clothing. If by chance they do fall behind or become separated from you they will be much easier to spot. Have their name and your travel and contact details written on a label inside their jacket and on a luggage tag attached to a backpack. Pumpkin Patch used to have big labels for this very purpose stitched into in all of their under fives jackets. I wish more manufacturers would think of this for outerwear. Have your children memorize their father's mobile number - they might know their home telephone number but this will be of little use to them if they do become separated from you and you are all in the big city train station hundreds of miles from home! Ensure they know where to go to ask for help in a train station or have a familiar rendevous point for all the family such as outside McDonalds or under the big station clock.

A typical beach town corner store or dairy as they are called in New Zealand. This store is famous for its ice creams. No chance of losing any family members in this metropolis!

10. Safety on the platform - ensure your young children keep well back from that yellow line painted on the platform.

Hold their hand firmly when boarding and disembarking and watch for the gap. Have them wear secure footwear - flip flops or jandals can easily slip off feet and disappear into the gap under the train. (A lesson I learned as a teenager - a long walk home on cold, hard pavements was the result!) It's also easy to lose grip of bags and jackets being carried so encourage children to keep their jackets on and have their back packs firmly strapped onto their backs. ( Many years ago, as I was boarding a train I dropped my student file under the train - I had rail staff retrieve it for me later and discovered that the essay I was handing in the next day had wheel imprints across it. The lecturer did not believe me when I told him the train had run over my homework!)

We used a baby back pack to carry our one year old son in - it is not always convenient or safe to use prams and strollers at train stations - not only are there stairs and escalators to negotiate but the ankles of other passengers to look out for. In recent years there have been some harrowing scenes on the news of runaway strollers with babies strapped in, falling into the path of oncoming trains, so check the brakes on your pram if you are using one and always keep them on when waiting on the platform.

Consider using a harness for a toddler (Target sell cute animal ones for about $30) or an adjustable travel wrist strap that connects you to your child - I used one of these when visiting England with a two year old. We did most of our traveling around London on the 'tube' - the underground trains - I was so glad that my boy was connected to me when moving through crowded platforms and especially when those trains came thundering into the station. It gave me peace of mind as we visited busy shopping malls. I can't imagine anything more stressful than losing your child in an unfamiliar city or town, so ignored the jokey comments from strangers about having to keep my boy on a leash!

Just informed her that we were going back home on the train the next day!

So there you have it - my top ten tips for families traveling by train. I discovered that night travel is different and that traveling economy comes with its own set of problems! I forgot that we would not have scenery to survey as we passed through different places and was looking forward to our return trip which was going to be by day until airport delays meant that once again, we would be traveling through the night. But we arrived home safely - our van waiting for us at the station that had been dropped off by a friend was a welcome sight until we discovered that a cat had peed on the vents on the bonnet! Cries of 'ughh - what's that smell?' rang through the night air! Even leaving your car in the station car park has unexpected hazards! We laughed and announced - anyone who leaves anything in the van gets to wash it tomorrow - one way of ensuring the car is cleaned out on your arrival home. So a big thank you to that station cat!

Going home!

That's enough of our travel adventures for now. Be prepared for any eventuality when traveling long distance. Circumstances may arise over which you have no control - all you can do is pray! Don't forget God goes with you and watches over us - ask Him for traveling mercies and protection for each family member. Pray for patience and guidance especially as you go through airports and face security checks. He will provide peace and a calm spirit for any crisis.

Happy traveling - hope this has been helpful to someone!

With Love and Joy,


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