Category Archives: fun outings

Persuasion on the Road

Or, Confessions of a Jane Austen fan.

I have always loved the Jane Austen books I read–Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Mansfield Park, Emma. But I confess that 2 were often hard for me to read: Persuasion and Northanger Abbey. So earlier this spring, I set out to try Persuasion again. In 6 weeks I waded through only 7 chapters, and let’s just say I wasn’t enthralled. It seemed like the sentence construction in this book was just too convoluted for me to get my brain around. So, I took Persuasion with me on our cross-country trek to MT. After a few hours of driving when boredom was beginning to set in for Mark, I said, “Hey, I could read Persuasion out loud to you.” Mark agreed to the plan, and we were off.

After just 2 pages of my reading aloud, we were both laughing at the ridiculous Sir Walter Elliot. I couldn’t understand why I didn’t see the humor in this book in earlier attempts to read it. By the time we arrived in MT, we were on chapter 8. We finished Persuasion on our return trip in Columbia, MO. So now I can add it to my list of Jane Austen novels read. Now I have to work on Northanger Abbey. I think it is supposed to be a parody of the Brontes and all their “gothicness.” Perhaps the parody notion will help me conquer NA this year, too. We’ll see. . . . .

For the Beauty of the Earth

This is the view from the back yard of the home we have been staying in for the past 4 days.

The weather since leaving Rapid City, SD, last Thursday morning has been anything but “cold and miserable.”  We have enjoyed cool sunny days with temps in the 50s – 60s and evenings with temps in the 40s – 50s.  The kids played outside more in 4 days than they have in the past several months.  We have also enjoyed great hospitality from new friends in Montana.  It is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.  I am grateful for the opportunity to see such grandeur.

Here’s one more photo, just for fun.  This one is from a rest-stop on our drive out.

“At least it’s not cold and miserable,”

said the very cheerful drive-thru employee at Burger King in Rapid City, SD, yesterday morning when it was 30 degrees, with howling wind, and snow falling.

It was cold and windy and, to us, quite miserable when our day started yesterday.  But as we headed west, we eventually got to the other side of the snow, then rain, then overcast skies to beautiful sunshine and breathtaking vistas as we winded through the mountains.  Gorgeous.  Hopefully, there will be pictures.

Friends loaned us a GPS system, and we forgot our google directions, so we depended on the all-knowing box attached to the windshield for the entire trip.  It didn’t let us down, despite our occasional lack of faith in it.

We arrived safely to our destination and enjoyed a pleasant evening of good food and new friends.

More later.

We Won!

A couple weeks ago, I got a call from a rep at a marketing company in New York who said, “Is this Jennifer Horne?”

I said, “Yes.”

He said, “You may be the potential winner of a Disney Cruise from the ABC show America’s Funniest Videos.  Did you enter the on-line contest?”

“Yes,” I said, thinking that I had just entered over the weekend and finding this call a bit surreal.

The marketing rep went on to explain that I was the potential winner until I could complete some paperwork to prove that I am who I say I am, and when that was complete, he could call me and tell me officially that I was the winner.

I was excited about winning a Disney Cruise, but, of course, the prize is a trip for 4.  We have 6.  Later the marketing rep called and said Disney would do their best to give me the best deal to add two more to the trip.  Yesterday, I got a call from the cruise line that sealed the deal for us that only 4 of us would be able to go on the trip.  I should be happy, but I am a bit sad.  I guess I have learned I shouldn’t enter contests for trips for 4.

We didn’t tell the kids about the prize until it was announced on tv tonight.  They were excited, but as we have decided that I will take the 3 older kids on the trip and Mark and Charis will “do something else fun,” there were some tears amidst the excitement.

What’s strange about this prize is the timing.  We would never consider making a trip like this ourselves.  We really never go on real vacations of any sort because of income limitations.  But if we were in a more stable position financially, we might have seriously considered paying for the two other passengers.  As it is, we aren’t really sure it will work for any of us to go.  But it was sort of fun to see my name on national TV along with a photo of the family.  We also received some well wishes from people we hadn’t told about winning.

I’ll keep you posted about our plans as summer approaches and we see how life unfolds for us.

That’s Our Girl!


This is a post that is a little late. The photo above was taken nearly a month ago, when Evangeline competed in a regional Christian school speaking competition called “The Speech & Word Festival.” Back in November, she won for her grade and category at her school, and in January, she went to the regional competition. The festival has several categories: illustrated story telling, Bible memory, poetry, dramatic reading, etc. She competed in poetry. She recited a Shel Silverstein poem that I knew of from my youth called “Bear in There.”

Bear in There

There’s a Polar Bear
In our Frigidaire–
He likes it ’cause it’s cold in there.
With his seat in the meat
And his face in the fish
And his big hairy paws
In the buttery dish,
He’s nibbling the noodles,
He’s munching the rice,
He’s slurping the soda,
He’s licking the ice.
And he lets out a roar
If you open the door.
And it gives me a scare
To know he’s in there–
That Polary Bear
In our Fridgitydaire.

After the students finished competing in different rooms around the host school, everyone gathered in the auditorium to await the judges’ decisions, and during that time, several students who were selected by the judges perform for the entire group–“showcased” as it were. The top photo shows Evangeline during this time of the day. After about 40 minutes passed, we heard the results. Evangeline tied for first place in her category. She was beaming. I admit, I was, too.

Here she is with her first place ribbon.

Evangeline with her first place ribbon

Adventures in Traveling

After celebrating Christmas at home with just us, we piled in the van the day after to head south to visit Mark’s family. Because of cold symptoms slowing me down, we didn’t get out of St Louis until around 10 am. So the 10 – 12 hour drive seemed even more daunting since we knew we would not arrive until late.

We were driving along, making good time. The kids were occupied by the family Christmas gift (dvd players for the van), and all was going well. Then, at around 5:45 pm, we received a call from a friend who is caring for our dog in our absence. He was at our house, and Simon was not willing to take orders from our friend. He barked and barked, and retreated to our living room sofa, where he promptly peed.

It Takes a Village?

I suggested calling Simon’s former owners, to see if they could calm him down. A little while later, we heard back from our friend. Simon’s former owner’s stopped by and properly introduced Simon to our friend. Since we’ve heard no further reports, we assume the rest of the week has gone alright. Apparently, “it takes a village to raise a dog.”

Next time we leave town, we’ll be sure to introduce Simon to his caretaker. Live and learn.

Thank God for Cell Phones

We continued on our journey, and around 7 pm, we stopped for a greasy meal at Long John Silver/AW Rootbeer in Muskogee, OK. Charis only wanted a milkshake. So we gave her half a small milkshake and forced her to eat a hot dog sans bun. Oh, when will we learn?!

We jumped back on HWY 69, and drove a couple of hours. Shortly before we reached Tushka, OK, Charis said she needed to use the bathroom. We finally came to a Valero gas station after several minutes of driving from the time the request was made. Mark took this opportunity to get gas while I took Charis into one of the most disgusting roadside bathrooms I’ve seen. After a short wait for Charis to perform, she said, “I need to throw up.” I told her to hold on, thinking if I turned her around to throw up in the potty, she would wet herself. Bad choice. Pee is much easier to clean up than pink vomit laced with hot dog chunks. Thank God for cell phones. I promptly called Mark and sent him back and forth for clean clothes, paper towels, a new trash liner for the gas station bathroom, etc.

Upon leaving the Valero Station in Tushka, OK, we witnessed a police bust of what we assumed to be some sort of drug charges. We were happy to leave behind this facility and get back on the road.

We arrived at the grandparents’ home at around 10 pm. Charis had slept most of the way since her throwing up incident, so we were hopeful all was well. Just when we pulled into Mark’s parents’ driveway, Charis said, “I think I’m going to throw up again!” Arrrgghhh! Before I could get her out of the van, more pink vomit was decorating her carseat. With a towel from Grandmommy wrapped around her, I whisked her to the bathtub for another cleansing.

Needed Rest

After a day of much needed rest on Thursday, Charis was back to her normal self. We all needed a day of down-time after after our adventurous day of traveling.

We’ve had an enjoyable visit with Mark’s family, and we’re looking forward to our drive home on New Year’s Day . . . sort 0f.

Some Photos from the Late Fall & Early Winter

The trick-or-treaters who live with us.

The four young Hornes posing with a statue of Punxsutawney Phil. We took this on our recent trip to see my mom and family. My mom grew up in Punxsutawney, and I was raised about 15 miles north closer to DuBois, PA.

High drama as the newly 10-year-old Nevin prepares to blow out the candles on his cake. This small cake was the last in a series of cakes for him. So please do not think he was deprived on his birthday!

Mark and me at his surprise 40th birthday party the weekend before Thanksgiving. Wonderful friends agreed to host the party at their beautiful home, and he was completely surprised. His actual birthday is this coming Monday, so if you think of it, stop by his blog to give him your well wishes.

Catching a Chicken

Fall is upon us.  Our pastor took this photo of Evangeline at our church’s harvest party last weekend.  As you might have guessed, this was taken during the Chicken Chase.  Evangeline nobly caught this bird and gave the dollar attached to its leg to her little sister who wanted nothing to do with catching a chicken.  I thought it was sweet of Evangeline from the start, but seeing how hard she had to work to get that dollar, I am especially proud.

Dog Days of Summer

From wikipedia:

The term “Dog Days” was coined by the ancient Romans, who called these days caniculares dies (days of the dogs) after Sirius (the “Dog Star”), the brightest star in the heavens besides the Sun.

Popularly believed to be an evil time “when the seas boiled, wine turned sour, dogs grew mad, and all creatures became languid, causing to man burning fevers, hysterics, and phrensies” – Brady’s Clavis Calendarium, 1813.

We are having said “dog days” here in St. Louis and many other parts of the midwest and south.  Today it hit 105 degrees, and it was something like the 6 or 7 day where the temp was over 100.  Languid is the perfect word to describe the feeling around here.

We really can’t complain too much–especially if the heat wave breaks soon.  We had a mild summer up until the recent hot spell.  But after several days of severe heat and the need to be inside most of the time, the kids are going crazy.  Just when you think it might feel ok outside (like at night), you open the door and are greeted by a humid stickiness that makes you run to the car as fast as you can to get the AC going.

Despite the hot weather, we have been busy with a number of things.  The grandparents were here from Texas for the last 5 days.  The kids were happy to have some time with them, and we enjoyed seeing them too.  On Friday, we split up our group and Mark, Granddaddy, and Calvin went to the Science Center while Grandmommy, Evangeline, Nevin, Charis, and I headed to the Magic House.  With the temps this high, our wonderful free zoo was out of the question!

To beat the heat, we took the older kids to the bargain theater on Saturday while Charis stayed with Grandmommy and Granddaddy.  It was nice for me to enjoy a movie with Evangeline without Charis crawling all over me.  We saw Nancy Drew while Mark and the boys saw Spider Man 3

 I know Nancy Drew got some bad reviews, but I really liked it.  I thought it was true to the overall feeling of the books.  The books never claimed to be “high fiction.”  They are just plain fun mysteries geared toward girls 7 – 12 years old.  The movie didn’t have that bratty teeneybopper movie feel that you get from so many of the Teen Disney shows.  It was much more wholesome.  That’s probably why it got bad reviews!

We also went to a “meet & greet” cookout at a local park Monday night for the new 3rd grade teacher at the kids’ new school.  While I didn’t enjoy the aforementioned heat, it was nice to meet a few school families since we are new to the school, too.

As always, we’re in the midst of transition at our house.  The older children are getting ready to head to their new school in a little more than 10 days.  Charis will be returning to her pre-school from last year right after Labor Day.  Mark and I are looking for ways to improve our vocational situation, which involves some swapping around of responsibilities and a certain level of stress.  If you think of it, please pray for us that we would treat each other kindly as we deal with cabin fever from the heat wave and all the transitions of life.