City of Joseph - Nauvoo

The only family photo where Eliza is looking at the camera.

The reason for our grand 2400 miles of driving at $4.00/ gallon was to attend Jared's sister's wedding. Brittany is down at Baylor in Houston working on her PHD and she met a really sweet guys who is also at Baylor (yes one day they will be Doctor and Doctor Bitner) . It has been great to have her down here, we have gotten to know Derek, the lucky guy, really well over the past year.

So from St. Louis we headed northwest about 3.5 hours. We rented a bed & breakfast for a few nights about seven miles south of Nauvoo that over looked the Mississippi. It was called the Nauvoo country lodge. The rooms were reasonable, breakfast was good, but the owner was a bit cranky. We walked in and the first thing Eliza did was stick her lips to the window. He growled and said "I just finished washing those". Yikes. But my parents stayed there also and my dad can strike up a conversation with frankly anything that will respond and by the second day the owner had mellowed a bit. All things considered, I would recommend it and we will stay there again.

It was great to return to Nauvoo. It will be 5 years this fall that Jared and I were sealed in the Nauvoo temple. It's slowly becoming a family tradition, Brittany and Derek were the 4th couple out of 7 kids to be married there.

Tuesday we got up and did a session at the temple and then spent the day in Old Nauvoo. If you have never been there, Mormon or not, its a great family destination. Over the years the Church has gone back to the original records and reconstructed or restored the old city. At one time Nauvoo rivaled Chicago in both size and commerce. During the summer they have missionaries that dress up and open all the shops. You can tour everything from the brickery to the bakery, the old time post office to the blacksmith shop. The kids get little bricks and prairie diamond rings (nails bent into the shape of rings at the black smith shop). They have wagon rides if you don't want to walk and even an old time brass band on a wagon that play through the streets. The the best part of it is there is no cost.

Anyway there is more info on the website http://www.historicnauvoo.net/

We were fortunate enough to be there during the Nauvoo pageant. It was great this year. We spent the week with family and just relaxing.
The Nauvoo Pageant
Master of the Stick Pull

Britt and Derek's wedding day was beautiful. They were sealed in the morning and then we had a good dinner at the 1850's guest house. They are so cute together and we wish them the best. Erin said that one day she is going to marry herself. When we told her that is not really possible, she said sure it is, then I'll get all the gifts.


Then we traveled to Des Monies for the reception and then headed back to Houston (which I might add is an inferno right now).


Gatewat Arch - St. Louie

I got home from a week at girls camp 4pm on Saturday, threw some clothes in a suitcase, repacked the car and we left Sunday morning at 7am to head to Nauvoo for Britt and Derek’s sealing. Since we typically stop at Des Moines first, I-35 is the preferred, yet utterly boring route of choice. This trip Nauvoo, ill was our first stop so we headed east on I-10 to Baton Rouge and then headed north on I-55 through Memphis and up towards St. Louis(which I highly recommend, beautiful drive). We stopped in St. Louis and went up in the Gateway Arch. The girls loved it. They plastered their faces to the tiny windows towering 630 feet above the park below. Jared and both went as kids. We joked on the way up that things that seemed really awesome as a kid were disappointing in adulthood. However, the view from the arch was just as breathtaking as it was 15 years ago.
If you have never been, we highly recommend it. The arch, under the National Park Service jurisdiction, still keeps it 1960’s retro charm. You walk to the center of the arch, looking up as this massive stainless steel structure sways in the Midwest wind and there begin the downward journey into something that reminded me more of an underground bunker than a national monument. Through the metal detectors and security guards you enter into a massive room beaneath the arch. They have an excellent westward expansion museum (also located underground). From there you continue down another ramp, deeper into the earth and again take a flight of stairs one more story down. In front of you are stand retro space age looking doors and they open to reveal these small sea green, egg shaped elevators with five small metal seats (it seriously looks like something out of Austin powers). The elevators are about 4x4x4. You cram 5 people (in our case 7, since our kids sat on our lap) into the green eggs, the doors close and you quickly start the 630 foot assent to the top. There is no air conditioning or air circulation in the small elevators so pray that no one stinks or is claustrophobic and has a panic attach.

The view from the top is amazing. From one side you overlook the Mississippi. From the other you gaze across the city and the baseball stadium. And then one more awkward ride back down with strangers you don’t know practically sitting on your lap. Erin gets motion sick, but thankfully she didn’t puke.

We then went walked over to The Old Cathedral. You can tour it, but it’s also still a functioning church. I would have liked to tour more of it, but when we walked in Erin yelled, “Hey this is cool!” and everyone praying turned around, so we just admired the tooled limestone structure from the outside.



Me looking at the ground from three stories up as I teeter on a cable.

A few week ago, amidst the grilling July heat we packed my 96 Dodge Dakota and headed to Camp Edgewood in the Bayous of Louisiana.

I have attended YW camp both as a camper and adult, but this was this first time I went as a Young Women President. To say the least it was a learning experience to be at the reigns trying to make things happen logistically. We had an awesome camp director Ashley (which made my job smooth) and together after months of planning we pulled it off. We had 25 girls attend from our ward, ranging in age from 12-17. The weather, minus the obvious damp inferno of a gulf summer, was beautiful. It was mid 90's but actually cooled off into the low 80's at night and it didn't rain at all.

Amber is our 1st counselor and a great mature example I might add, she always keeps things utterly hilarious!

Typically we tent camp, but the program has grown so much that we opted for the adirondack cabins. Cabin would be a liberal definition. They had three sides with plywood bunks. Minus having to douse yourself in deet before going to bed and the point you were sleeping on a piece of plywood, they really worked out well, good airflow and lots of space.

The week was spent in certification (knots, constellations, nature classes etc), free time (which we hung at the high ropes course a lot), and just hanging out. Our whole ward got up at 6 am one morning to do the mile swim certification in the lake. I was really proud of them, even those who couldn't swim threw on a life jacket and paddled through the morning midst.

It was a great camp this year, a good mix of fun and spiritual. Over the activities, games and crafts, yw camp has one main purpose, for young women to draw closer to their Savior. Away from the frantic rush of life and the constant movement of living in the city, it’s refreshing to sit on a hill and gaze at the stars and ponder both The Creation and the Creator.


Happy 4th of July!

What do Houstonians do for the 4th? 100,000 gather together for country music, nascar, big trucks, and huge fireworks...everything is bigger in Te-has right? One of our friends works for the City of Houston and got tickets to Houston's big 4th of July bash downtown. I have been wanting to go for a few years and this was the year.

We drove down to reliant stadium and took the light rail into downtown. It was about a mile walk to the festival. They closed down Allen parkway, which is a divided highway that winds under the interstate. They had a free carnival for the kids with lots of rides and two bandstands. Chevy had a huge display (in Texas it's pronounced dis-play) with their new hybrid Tahoe that gets a whopping 21 mpg. Chevy is going to get their seat kicked if they don't get in the game. They even had a hunting photo shoot and we couldn't pass up the opportunity to dress our sweet little girls in orange and give them big guns.

Sarah Evans, Jo Dee Messina and Miranda Lambert all performed. They sounded awesome, at least what we could hear of them. We chose to sit next to the "local" bandstand and had to listen to some Jimmy buffett knock-off local band for an hour. We would of moved but we sent the men for snow cones and were wondering if they were going to return. We figured they 1. got arrested, 2. one was a closet country junkie who decided to come out or 3. joined the Hare Krishnas that were dancing and drumming in the street. We watched them chant for a while, we got to laughing about their crocs. Imagine a bunch of drumming men with bald heads and their traditional robes with bright orange crocs.

Houston has the largest fireworks display in the nation and it was AWESOME! They shot them off from two hill sides and it was all orchestrated to music. Although we had to sit next to the sucky band for an hour, we had perfect seats for the fireworks. Erin and her friend Elle just sat there clapping and laughing, they had such a good time.
We shuffled out with the other 99,996 people and walked downtown Houston at midnight, probably one of the few nights of the year that its safe to walk after dark. They had their equestrian police force out and Erin thought the cops on horses were very cool. About 20,000 of those people took the light rail and we made it back to the car without being mugged.


Houston is getting a little greener

A few years ago the city of Houston did something unusual for a city of its size, they deregulated the electric company. Now there are dozens of power companies you can shop to buy electricity. The city even set up an awesome website www.powertochoose.org where you can easily compare companies. We change providers about every 8 months. About a year ago we started to see companies offer 80-100% green power, but it was at a premium price. To my surprise this time several of the smaller companies are offering 100% green wind power for the same price as the tradition coal power. We new it would be coming, I just didn't think it would be this fast. West Texas houses the largest wind farm in the world (what else do you do with miles of barren plains?) For once I am proud to say I live in Houston. So as of this week the Renshaw house will be a little greener.

My Bowlegged Bambino

Eliza took her first official steps back in May and it didn't take her long to figure out how to toddle along. She had also developed a shoe fetish, not wearing them (she hates anything on her feet) just transporting them.


Hmmm, when they say green, they mean green

I couldn't stand our all gray house anymore, so while I was at the local Ace Hardware I saw they were having a paint sale and I decided to jump on it. (just FYI, their paint is awesome)! For months I have been taping paint samples to this room trying to figure out what I like. I was going for something deep brown or red, but in the heat of the moment went with green. And wow, it is green. Can't say I am overly crazy about the color, but it really makes the molding pop, which is what I wanted.

As what to do with the windows I'm not sure. For those of you who have visited, we have mirrored vertical blinds, and I HATE them. However, we don't have the money to drop $300+ on wood blinds. So any ideas? My budget is like $30.00 (yes I'm as cheap as ever). The problem is I need something that provides a heat barrier since the sun is so hot here.

And the white table is going, at least back to the kitchen. I am in the process of refinishing my gt. grandmothers old oak table, but had to take a break for the summer since its so humid.

And yes....that is my child sitting on the floor reading a book with a bike helmet on.....