Update on my Adopted Dad

Happy Saturday Morning, y’all! I decided to post today so I could give a quick update on my adopted dad. If you’ve been following Noveltea for a couple of months you’re probably aware that he had a heart attack and then open-heart surgery at the end of June. I was blessed to be able to spend nearly four weeks with them at the time, but then had to return to “normal” life and go back to work and all that good stuff. 

Last weekend I was excited to get to spend the day with them, and was thrilled at how much better Dad is doing. Although he’s still trudging down the road to recovery, he’s leaps and bounds further along than the previous time I had seen him, which made me incredibly thankful. 


Here’s an update they posted this week regarding the trouble he’s been having with his arm/hand:

The EMG showed neuropathy caused from the cholesterol medicine that I had been on for 15 years. The Doctor said the numbness in my fingers would go away in time. He said 4-6 months. My arm at least is not hurting like before. I am trying to play my instruments but it is not up to standard because of two fingers being numb. Cardiac doctor is pleased with my heart and valve. There are still skipped beats but he thinks they will settle down. I am healing and getting stronger. I start rehab next week. Thank you everyone for all the prayers.

While I was at their cabin Dad played a bit of several instruments and sang for me, which was fantastic (especially considering last time I was there he was just getting to the point where he could talk again without going into coughing fits). 
For those of you who don’t know, my adopted dad is a professional musician and song writer who has traveled all over the world performing. So…being able to play instruments and sing songs is a vital part of his every-day-life. 


Thank you to everyone who has prayed, and continues to pray, for his recovery. I hope y’all will join me in praising God for the wonderful recovery Dad has been making.

***
Side note: Because recovery is still underway for my adopted dad, I sadly won’t be taking part in our yearly caving adventure that I blogged about in June. I still hope some of y’all can go, though!

Have a great day!

Happy 4th Birthday (Plus BIG Giveaway)

Guess what yesterday was? Noveltea’s fourth birthday! Yay! I’m excited about this week where I get to do some “giving back” to y’all and thank you for being a part of my life. I hope you join in the festivities and bring some friends along to the party.

Having a blog is literally a dream come true. I’d heard for years about how good of a platform it would be for writing, but I had no clue how rewarding it could be until I experienced for myself. Although blogging hasn’t always been easy, looking back over the last four years I’m incredibly grateful for the journey I’ve been on. 
Yesterday I made some delicious coffee cake, gingersnaps, and birthday cake (free of grains, dairy, and refrained-sugars). It was a fun way to celebrate Noveltea’s forth birthday and the fact that we just crossed the 1,000th post mark. Exciting, right? 
Since I can’t ship y’all cake (I wish I could!) I decided to have a giveaway to thank you for being a part of my life and spread the word about Noveltea. I hope we’ll have lots of fun together this week and get some conversations going in the comment section. I’m giving away four prizes since this is Noveltea’s forth birthday. I choose one of my favorite books, one of my favorite CDs, one of my favorite DVDs and an Amazon gift card (cause how can you go wrong there?). 
Please make sure you enter the giveaway, spread the word, leave a comment, and take a moment to fill in the poll on the sidebar, if you feel so inclined. Thank you for being a part of my life and thank you for celebrating with me and passing the word along! 

(Please note: I can only ship the giveaway prizes – not including the gift card – to USA addresses.)
* * * 
It’s that time again where we get to choose where Annie goes for this week in our Friday Series, Around the World in Fifty-Two WeeksAnd the destination is: South Korea! 

Building a Dinosaur

This morning I’m at my adopted parent’s* cabin and I hear breakfast being cooked in the kitchen, the banjo being played in the back room, and I’m watching snow drift down outside. Cricket, Bo, Liberty, and Zoey, the four dogs, are curled up around me sleeping; it’s an altogether peaceful feeling.  
I’m here this week to help work on a couple of dinosaurs that they’re making for the Ark Encounter. A few years back I helped build a dinosaur for the Creation Museum (and ruined a couple of outfits in the process), and I’m looking forward to digging into this kind of adventure again.  

Dad is an extremely talented artist. It’s clear that God has blessed him with a lot of artistic ability and then he’s spent years working on his craft and perfecting his skill. Watching how hard he works to make each one of his projects just right is fascinating.

Dad made most of the dinosaurs that are at the Creation Museum and he’s self-taught. When he began making dinosaur sculptures there weren’t other people in that type of business and so he had to figure out everything by trial and error. I feel honored to be able to learn by watching him.

I’m not very good at detailed work, nor would I consider myself a paleoartist by any stretch of the imagination, but I can help with little things such as mixing up the epoxy and getting different tools.

It’s so cool being able to try (or watch) new things, because I then have a bigger file tucked away in my brain of skills I can use in my writing. Hopefully I’ll someday write a second Creation Quest book that features building a dinosaur.

This is also a great time for me to be here so I can ask a lot of questions regarding music and performing and practicing to use in the music scenes for When Life Hands You Lymes. There’s nothing like being surrounded by instruments when writing about music.

* * * 
Have you ever been to the Creation Museum? It’s one of my favorite places in the world to go and I often spend several weeks there each year. 

*I’m leaving out the “adopted” for the rest of the post.

Manning the Camera

Last weekend I got to do something I’ve wanted to do for a while: I helped man the camera’s at the Creation Museum during a couple of the programs. Last year they had asked if I could help but I sadly had other plans so they had to find someone else. 
I’ve been hanging out with the AiG film crew as they work with my adopted parents since back in 2010 when they were working on I Dig Dinosaurs, which is the first DVD in the Amazing Adventures with Buddy Davis series. 
Although I’m generally only around for a few days during the filming of each DVD (and I’m not really needed, I mostly just watch and do a few odd-jobs), it’s still so cool to at least be a tad bit involved. So far I’ve been a “part” of the process for six DVDs:  I Dig DinosaursSwamp ManExtreme CavingAlaska!, Ice Age (which isn’t released or titled yet), and Homemade Music
This weekend when I got to help with the camera I had tons of fun being a “part” of the process again. Having never worked a camera before, I was slightly freaked out that I was going to do something horribly wrong and mess everything up, but thankfully it didn’t take me long to settle in. 
One of the guys showed me how to pan, tilt, zoom, focus, etc… and then I wore the headsets and throughout the entire program the guys up in the control booth told me and the other camera guy what to do. 
“Lydia, zoom in on Buddy and then follow him while he’s singing.” 
“Joel, stay on Ken.” 
“Switching to Camera one.”
“Switching to Camera two.”
“Alright, Lydia, zoom out now so you can get everyone. Go a little further… A little more… There!” 
“Switching to Camera three.” 
There were actually times when it was really amusing because a few of the people on the stage walked around a lot and so it was a bit of a challenge to keep them in the center of the camera. The film crew is so much fun and are amazingly easy to work with. I appreciate them (and the work they do) a lot. They are really talented and good teachers; I’m thankful they allowed me to help them.
Overall, manning the camera was the highlight of my week and I’m incredibly grateful I got to experience yet another new thing. I don’t know if I’ll ever get to do something like that again in the future, but I hope I do. 

* * *
What about you? Have you ever manned a big camera? Is that something you would like to do? If you have, isn’t it so much fun to get to listen to all the comments the control guys make? 

My Week with My Adopted Parents

I’m spending this week with my adopted parents*. The internet isn’t always the best, so I’m glad to finally have a good signal and be able to catch up on some stuff. We’ll be going to the Creation Museum tomorrow so if any of y’all will be there on Friday or Saturday I’d be delighted to see you. 
Yesterday we had some of our friends from the Museum come over (my parents live about three hours away from the Museum) and we had a great time hanging out. They had a guest visiting from Australia so I had a lot of fun asking her what life was like there. We went to Holmes County together and got to see some cool stuff like how one of the stores makes homestyle apple butter and jellies. (Sadly, I did’t take any pictures while we were there.) 

My dad has been working on carving a bear out of a log. He’s such an amazing artist. I enjoy getting to watch him work and am always blown away by his many talents. He can paint, draw, carve, sculpture, build, and do taxidermy, plus of course play about eight instruments and sing and write songs and books and… Well, the list goes on.

Cowboy and I hung out for a bit this morning. He’s a sweet horse although he didn’t like staying still for a picture. I enjoy getting to be around him. My parents are really good with animals. Mom is currently trying to tame two cats that were abandoned. Her patience is crazy. I’m the kind of person who likes to rush through everything and think I probably would have given up on the cats after the first couple of days. 

We worked on a small writing project this morning and I’m hoping to do some brainstorming for another Creation Quest book later on today. And… Speaking of books, Cave Secrets of the Pterodactyl is on sale right now! When you buy it, you also get a audio book, so it’s actually a two-for-one deal. Just click on the title and it will take you to the Answers in Genesis website if you want to check it out. 

I hope y’all are having a great week. What are you looking forward to doing this weekend? Have you ever been to the Christmas Town at the Creation Museum? Oh yes, and today is your last day to enter this giveaway.

*I’m going to drop the “adopted” part for the rest of the post. 

Extreme Caving

Y’all, we did it again! Happy, happy Monday from a thrilled little blogger who spent part of Saturday and Sunday crawling around in the depths of the earth. I had such a fantastic time and I’m excited to be able to share our adventure with y’all. (I’m spending today at my adopted parent’s I’m dropping the “adopted” for the rest of this post house and the internet is slow so it took what felt like half of forever to upload these pictures, but me oh my, they’re worth it.) 
I went to my parent’s house on Wednesday of last week then Friday morning we traveled to the Creation Museum and had a wonderful time. I had so much fun getting to hang out with my friends who work there. I was especially glad to spend a couple of hours with my good friend, Susan, and her family. 
Early Saturday morning we loaded the car up and drove the five and a half hours to McMinnville, Tennessee to the Cumberland Caverns. This is the third summer in a row that we’ve taken a group of people there and it’s one of the events I look forward to most each year. We had around 130 people take part in the adventure which. 
When we got there we piled all of our backpacks and sleeping bags up and then I had a great time talking to people while Lynae (who was in charge of the trip) was taking care of registration. I especially had fun with Elizabeth and her dad, Chris. Their family has been friends with my parents for a long time but I hadn’t gotten to know Elizabeth until this trip. 

The past few years we’ve done the caving trip a couple of weeks earlier in the year and it’s been really hot outside. This year I did’t feel a huge temperature change when I walked into the cave, except of course because of the lack of sunshine. 
Stepping into the cave is truly like dropping into another world. I tried to keep my gushing at bay, but I kept telling Lynae that I wanted to hug the cave. It’s beautiful. Detailed. Awesome. When I spend time in a cave I’m reminded all over again about how amazing and creative God is. I can hardly grasp the fact that for all we know there can be caves like this under us and we don’t even know it. 

The Cumberland Caverns are huge. And when I say huge, I mean that it’s one of the largest caves in the USA. The place where Dad does his concerts can fit six hundred people. The place where we camp out can sleep four hundred people. There are miles and miles of underground passageways. At some places the ceiling towers more than a hundred feet above the floor. That, my friends, is huge. 

After a walking tour Dad did a concert for our group. It was a lot of fun because Dad let the audience pick the songs that he sang and he told a lot of cool stories that went along with his songs. The caving trip provides a friendly, almost family-ish feeling that I love.

After the concert we had supper and watched the Extreme Caving DVD (which was filmed mostly in the Cumberland Caverns) then it was time for the spelunking adventure. This is my favorite part of caving and I was excited to have Elizabeth as my spelunking pal. 
When we get down into the cave it narrows down and even though 68 of us went on the spelunking tour, most of the time I could only see two or three other people because the group spreads out and goes one-by-one because of how small it is. 

Elizabeth and I hung back so we could be at the very end of the group. We did that for several reasons, but the main ones being: 
1. I don’t like the idea of being surrounded by people while in tight spaces hundreds of feet underground
2. That way we could go at our own pace and we wouldn’t be holding anyone up
3. We got to be with the guide who stays in the very back and that way we could ask lots of questions 
4. I’ve been in the back every time I’ve done it and so I’m partial to that position 

 There were three guides with us. One at the front, one in the middle and one at the back. Andrea was the back guide and Elizabeth and I had so much fun talking with her and learning cool stuff about the cave that we wouldn’t have heard other wise.
This is a picture (below) of Andrea coming out of one of the belly crawling places. I’m not good with distances, but I’m guessing this was about fifteen feet long. And it’s not a straight stretch, either. To get through it you have to twist and turn and wiggle around rocks and use your feet to propel you forward. Plus, you’re going slightly uphill so you can’t see the end of the crawl space. It’s a little bit freaky.
Also, please note that Andrea is really small, so the tunnel is even tinier than it looks like from this picture. To this day I’m not sure how anyone bigger than me fits through these tunnels. But they do.

With crawl spaces like that ^ the spelunking goes really slowly because Elizabeth and I had to wait for 68 other people to go in front of us. Most of the time I didn’t mind waiting, but at other times I would be in a tight spaces when Elizabeth would stop walking and if I could I would back up, but other times it was best to just wait where I was. 
In the picture below I was waiting at this particular place for a couple of minutes and it was so tight I literally could not turn my head more than halfway. (If I took off my helmet I probably could have.) It was times like this that I would come up with a diversion tactic so I didn’t get claustrophobic. Hence the picture and also lots of fun conversations between Andrea, Elizabeth and me. 

I’m a tad bit confused with the names, but I’m pretty sure that this picture below is of the Lemon Squeeze. Andrea was gracious enough to stop for a moment for me to get this picture to show how small it is. Again, I’m not sure it does an adequate job. (For size reference: Look at her hand on the ground. She’s small so therefore her hands are small.) There’s one place that we went through that is only 11 inches tall.

At one part of the cave the ground is all bumpy and looks really cool. The last couple of times that we went though the cave the guides had everyone stop in this room and turn off their lights so people could see what complete darkness looks like. 
The group didn’t do that this time, but I told Andrea how much I liked that part so we waited until everyone else besides the three of us were far down the tunnel then we turned off our lights and experienced extreme darkness. It was crazy. 
I think I’ve worn this sweatshirt every time I’ve gone caving. I’m normally cold when we start out spelunking and then part way through I warm up, then a little bit after that I’m down right hot. I took my sweatshirt off and tied it around my waist, but then when we would go through tight spots I had to untie it and carry it with me. 
When I hit one of the belly-crawling parts I accidentally dropped it and since I couldn’t reach back and grab it I had to pull it along with my feet which made me feel a little bit freaked out because it was such a tight space and my sweatshirt added bulk to the crawl space. 

Elizabeth is so sweet and since she’s pretty small she fit in the tight spots better than me and offered to carry my sweatshirt. At one point in time she warned me that it was going to get dirty. I was so relieved that I didn’t have to carry it that I told her “That’s fine, make it a game and try and get it as dirty as possible.” Next thing I knew she was polishing the rocks with it and truly did get it filthy. I was happy with anything as long as I didn’t have to carry it… 

The last two years after spelunking I’ve been disappointed that I hadn’t stopped to actually think about how far underground we were while in the middle of the adventure. The reason I hadn’t is because I was afraid I would get claustrophobic and freak out and that is not a good thing.
This time I felt like I could handle it, so I asked Andrea at one point how far down we were. She said she wasn’t sure, but probably about 400 feet. I let that thought soak in for a minute while looking at the rocks all around me and imaging the tight spots I had just come through and the tight spots I would be going through. Then I started feeling all hot and weird inside so I quickly stopped thinking about it again.
There was so much neat stuff to see underground. I especially liked all the neat rocks that looked like they were covered with glitter and the fossils.

After spelunking for about two hours Elizabeth announced that it felt like we had only been down there for 30 minutes and she wished that we could keep going and going. I told her I had felt the same exact way the first time I went on the adventure. I’m so glad that Elizabeth and I could do the spelunking together. It was so much fun!

After we were done spelunking I was so tired that I was happy to go to bed. I woke up multiple times during the night and I would open my eyes, stick my head out of my sleeping bag, catch a glimpse of the rocky ceiling in the dim light, smile at the adventure of it all and go back to sleep.

I’m so glad we got to go caving again and I really hope I can do it again next year. It is seriously one of my most favorite adventures that I’ve ever been a part of.

What about you? Have you ever been caving? Does it sound like fun to you? 
*These pictures were taken by my mom, Chris, Elizabeth, Andrea and me. Thanks everyone for letting me use them! 

July 2015 in Review

What I Focused on in July 

1. Spending time with family (visiting family out-of-state, my cousin’s wedding, etc…)
2. A week at the Creation Museum signing books and all that happiness
3. My non-writing job
Birthday Challenge and Dream List Update

1. Read 23 Non-fiction books {7 = 16}
4. Write 23 book reviews {5 = 11} here, here, here, here and here
13. Go to bed before 10:30 23 times (not in a row) {Completed June-something + 2}
15. No texting for 23 days (not in a row) {Completed June 28th}
20. Write a list of 500 things I’m thankful for {Completed July 16th}
21. Fill up a physical journal {Completed June 31st}

None

 Reading Update: 

Fiction: 10
Non-Fiction: 7
Reviews: 5
Traveling 

Nights gone: 11
New States or Countries traveled to: None
What I’ve been Learning

How do I even go into all I’ve been learning? 
I’ve been learning about speaking out and not remaining quiet. About living in faith. About letting go. About being ok with not-so-perfect. About asking God to increase my influence and then doing my part. 
I’ve been learning about how history repeats itself. About the importance of talking things through. About how much family and friends mean to me. About standing up for the truth and not backing down. 
I’ve been learning about writing and what annoys me in other books. I’ve been learning about thinking things through and having well-rounded characters. I’ve been learning about how much work it is to reach excellence. 
I’ve been learning and I’ve been growing. It’s been good. And at times not-so-good. 
Other Things

I’m excited that I got so much done on my birthday challenge this month. Most of the things are the list are pretty important to me and I’m fairly certain I’ll get 22 out of 23 of the challenges accomplished in time. (And, my birthday is at the end of next month so I really have to crack down on it!)
Going to the Creation Museum this month was extremely nice. I normally spend a few weeks there with my adopted parents each year and so I have a lot of friends there, plus I get to sign my books and talk with the guests and get story ideas and all that goodness. 
My first cousin to get married had her wedding in July and so that was nice. I’m happy for her and my new cousin-in-law. They’re great together. 
I read a lot of non-fiction this month which was challenging and good for me. I enjoy reading non-fiction books but I don’t fly through them like I do with fiction. So in July I finished reading three or four that I’d been in the middle of and then added in a few more. Plus reviews. I kinda overloaded Noveltea with reviews, but it was fun letting y’all know what I’d been reading. 
I’m currently visiting family out-of-state and therefore my blogging has been a bit sporadic. I have been getting editing done on When Life Hands You Lymes though, so that’s been wonderful!

How was your July? I’d be delighted to hear.