3,336 Miles and We’re Home!

Three thousand three hundred thirty-six miles – and we’re home.

I’ve missed you!

I didn’t expect to take such a long break from writing, that’s for sure, but life didn’t go the way I expected the week before we left.

Russ was in Kenya and I was supposed to be finishing up the school year with the kids, wrapping up blog and work details, all while packing for our trip.

Unfortunately, I got sick, and didn’t manage any of it very well.

I even had two wonderful guest posts nearly ready for you and those didn’t get set to go either – you’re going to love them when I share them with you later.

Life – it just keeps happening.

Russ got home, we packed, cleaned our house for Noah and Katie (who were housesitting), took care of the essential details (care for the steers and dog), and took off Tuesday morning.

Unfortunately, by then Russ was sick. He grew sicker as we traveled and we went to a doctor in Billings, MT who sent us to the ER for a malaria test. Thankfully, it came back negative.

We made it to Minneapolis Thursday night and he started antibiotics which eventually helped him kick what was most likely a bacterial infection from travel.

Hannah’s graduation from Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery residency was Friday. We all attended the morning ceremony where she gave a beautiful speech. That night, Zoe kept the boys during the formal dinner while Claire came with us. The entire day was inspiring.

Five years of very hard work, done, and now she’s off to a two-year fellowship.

We enjoyed three more days in Minneapolis, celebrating at her party, having fun with friends, and seeing a little bit of the city.

Our kids have never experienced city life and it was a great experience – riding bikes in the alley, playing in the nearby park, and walking to an urban Farmers’ Market.

They quickly made friends with Hannah’s “Minneapolis family” (a single mom with 11 kids – 8 adopted – she’s amazing) and we had a hard time saying goodbye Monday night. Most of the kids chose to avoid it altogether – lots of trauma in the histories of all of our kids, so we adults let them cope with it as they chose.

Tuesday we headed to De Smet, South Dakota where we fulfilled a long-held dream of mine of visiting the Ingalls Homestead near the shores of Silver Lake.

I read the Laura Ingalls Wilder books to my children many times as they were growing up, especially during our 23 years of homeschooling. It was a sweet time for us.

The day ended with warm hospitality at our friends’ 1884 homestead in Fedora, SD, not far from the Ingalls, where we ate a wonderful dinner and the kids played until we all fell into bed late that night.

my friend Abbey and the top of her baby’s head

The next morning we said goodbye to our friends and to Hannah who had joined us for the first bit of our trip. Then we headed west for two long days of driving until we pulled into our driveway Thursday night.

We missed our two older (still living at home) girls on this trip. Annarose is working as a camp counselor, so she couldn’t join us, and Beza was traveling to Denver to visit friends and then go to camp, so she also stayed behind. This is what it’s like to have your kids grow up – they can’t always go on summer vacations with the family.

It’s Monday and I’m digging back into life – figuring out what the rest of our summer is going to look like. We just found out my dad is having open heart surgery in late July, so I’m looking at things a little differently now.

Although I didn’t blog at all during the trip, I posted on Instagram and used the “my story” feature to show some of our activities.

The photos and videos disappear after 24 hours and they’re unedited, more “life as it’s happening,” which I kind of like. I also like being able to add lots of little pics and clips knowing I’m not clogging up anyone’s Insta feed. Let me know what you think!

Also, I know I’ve mentioned this before, we can’t share any photos showing Zoe’s* face, so that eliminates sharing many of the pictures we took.

All for today!


[*Zoe is the name our foster daughter chose to use on my blog.]


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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.


  1. Beth
    June 26, 2017

    This made me smile! I never thought I would hear about Fedora randomly in a blog. 🙂 I grew up only 10 miles from there, and my great grandmother lived in “town”. I have many memories of the feed store and gas station, and it being a destination as I learned to drive. Thank you for triggering some great memories!

    1. Lisa Qualls
      June 27, 2017

      Oh, that makes me happy! Who knew someone from Fedora would read this post? Our friends live in Howard and the family homestead is in Fedora. When I told the ladies working at the Ingalls Homestead we were going to Fedora they told us to “watch out for traffic.” Ha!

  2. Paula Spears
    June 28, 2017

    I had so much fun a couple of years ago when I went to DeSmet with my sister, her husband, and the twins! Honestly, my sister and I just let those others tag along…we were the ones really into the Ingalls saga…look, it’s Mary’s piano!…wow, Pa stood right here!…this is the house from the Long Winter!…you get the idea. It was a dream of mine to go there. Hope you had as much fun as we did! And congratulations to Hannah. What an accomplishment!

    1. Lisa Qualls
      June 30, 2017

      Right! I loved it as much as the kids – maybe even slightly more. So good to hear from you, Paula.

  3. Laurel
    June 29, 2017

    Glad your trip went well. I visited my MN daughters in February. Sure wish we lived closer.

    Oh how I love “Hannah’s Minneapolis Family”. I have visited them in their home, but wasn’t able to on my last trip.

    How different things are when the big kids head out on their own. We are down to the last two at home. We went camping over Father’s Day weekend with “only” the 4 of us and it was so different than our camping trips used to be with 12 of us. 🙂

  4. angie
    July 1, 2017

    oh my goodness Lisa. I was born in Desmet and lived on a farm in Roswell and went to Howard for school. My sister lives in Souix Falls and her husbands family homestead is in Fedora . Last year we had our family reunion in Carthage and my family stayed at the homestead with my sister in Fedora. Our kids walked the whole town & went to the feed store for icecream. We joked about how we had to be the talk of the town & how our Anna was probably the only black person ever in Fedora. Wow!!! What a little world we live in.

    1. Lisa Qualls
      July 3, 2017

      What? That is crazy. Your family surely must know my friend’s family. She also grew up in Howard as did her parents. They still live in Howard and she lives in Tea.


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