October 30, 2009

Simple Pumpkin Fun

I know this is the weekend for carving pumpkins and eating too much sugar, but I really don't like to cut my big pumpkin. I like it to last through Thanksgiving. So the kids and I compromised. We each got a small pumpkin (in addition to my big pumpkin and the white one hubby bought for me). I used my apple corer to make those perfect little polka dots.
They chose to paint theirs. Something their crazy mom said about bugs n such.
Here's the fam!
That's me with the fabulously long eyelashes.

What is your pumpkin tradition?

October 29, 2009

I love getting real mail. Especially if it looks like this:

Come to momma. It was a good day!

I actually won a fellow blogger's generous giveaway! Annette at Designs By a Rose hosted a giveaway that was ultra-sweet... I even got to choose what kind of gift card! The Target one was tempting, but I knew I'd end up spending it on groceries. So I chose the one card that I knew would be savored by every last sip.

I've enjoyed several Grande Non-fat Decaf Peppermint Mochas. My mouth is watering just typing. Would it be bad to load the kids up in the car in the middle of the day for a coffee run?

Thank you Annette!!!

October 27, 2009

Dear Faithful Reader,
I know you are surely tired of my vacation pictures, but, since this is my blog, I get to bore you reflect for one more day. Acadia National Park has to be one of the most beautiful places on God's green earth. Unfortunately, the first day of our visit it was more gray than green. Gray as in pouring rain and foggy. The previous night, we knew rain was in the forecast, so before we went to bed, we prayed as a family that the rain would hold off until morning so that we wouldn't have to break down camp and sleep in the car for the rest of the night. Our prayers were answered. It began raining at 6:15 am. We decided to go ahead and make a day of it and visit the park. Hubby and I enjoyed the drive, but unfortunately, we had promised the kids a hike.
But it was 45 degrees, raining and gusty. So we let the kids out of the car and told them to take a hike. Literally. They spent about 10 minutes battling the elements and we called it a day. I wasn't really complaining because I knew what was in store for the night: HOTEL

Twelve years later, and it is still one of our favorite spots in the world.
On our way home, we made a few more stops:

Nubble Lighthouse was our last stop in Maine.

Since it takes over 2 days of straight driving to get home, we decided to make one more "small" stop. Haha! I know, it was like a mini vacation within our vacation, but we like to make the most of it.
We visited 3 of the Smithsonian museums, and thanks to this burnished galaxy man, we took home a very happy little boy.
It was truly one of the best weeks of my life. Our family grew, laughed, bonded and peed in a bucket together. Would I trade it for a week of luxury? Not on your life. My memories are priceless.

October 26, 2009

My "Computer Class"

I had the pleasure of having dinner with 13 fellow bloggers on Saturday night. As you can imagine, putting a group of women whose common interest is wordage, was quite entertaining. Funny, we never had a single moment of awkward silence.
I didn't know that bloggers were so beautiful. When I say beautiful, I mean inside and out. A precious group of ladies.
From left to right: Tracey {NC Brownings}, Amy {Bambino Bliss}, Rachel {NC Rachel}, K2 {Secret Agent/Reader}, Heather {Life with the Lords}, Kristen {KR & Company}, Janel {Dandelion Dayz}, Susan {Carpool Queen}, Kellie {La Vida Dulce}, Jessica {Chubby Dove}, Sandy {Seasoned Sister}, June {Bye, Bye Pie}, Robin {Chosen} and moi!

I finally got to meet Kellie. She was the brainchild behind this shindig. And she did a diggity-dog good job of playing hostess. She even took the time to create a beautiful embroidered gift for each of us.
I ended up sitting next to June. Because of her continual hysterical comments, my side hurt from laughing.

See, even CPQ could hardly contain herself.

With a room full of bloggers, the flash photography was enough to recreate a lightening storm.

One of my favorite moments was meeting a new friend, The Chubby Dove. As you can see, she's not Chubby. But her blog sure has a cute name! We hit it off as soon as she walked in and didn't stop talking until it was time to leave.
Our meeting place was a cute little italian bistro. When the food came out, so did the cameras. The waitress surely thought we were crazy. But she didn't know that we were a group of super-cool internet I've-never-met-you-before kind of friends.

As I was heading out the door to for my evening out, my hubby asked if I needed to take my computer. No, I just need my camera was my response. When I got home I was giddy and told hubby that I was "in my happy place." He said, wow! you must have learned a lot in your computer class. Hunh? I guess our pre-evening communication was a little off. He thought I was going to a blogger meeting. Actually, I was going to meet bloggers and eat this:

Thanks, girls, for a fun-filled evening.
We're going to plan another one, so if you are a NC blogger/faithful reader, let me know.

October 25, 2009

Sunday Rest

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.

Proverbs 31:30

October 22, 2009

The Maine Idea

If any state has it together, it is Maine. Everything there is aesthetically pleasing. There are no billboards, no annoying "open house" signs at every corner, and their Starbucks is the cutest in the world. After my night with the birds from hades, I took a walk on the wild side and ordered a Peppermint Mocha. With caffeine... something that I've been off of for several months.

After meeting momma's needs our breakfast treat, we strolled around Freeport, Maine. Not much is open at 7:50 in the morning except this place:
But after all, L.L. Bean is what Freeport is famous for. And their Canadian geese. Six blocks of L.L. Bean stores were open. We strolled a few, and then found the outlet. Did you know that with 3 kids and a shot of caffeine, you can do it all in 32 minutes flat?

As CPQ says, "always eat local while on vacation."
I totally agree. 100%.
It isn't hard to do when this is the local fare:
New England clam chowda. This is not your Cambell's soup variety either. Every bite was creamy goodness.

It's also fun to try the local beverages. Old Soaker won my heart.
Hubby even bought a six pack for me to bring home. Some people buy magnets, I buy soda.

But let's be real. What is the creme de la creme of Maine?
Oh. Yes. And I enjoyed every single bite. The kids thought it was totally gross that he looks at you the whole time, but I wouldn't have cared if he introduced himself in a cute little French accent. I had driven 1,247 miles for this plate and I intended to take my time.

We had reached our furthest destination of the trip: Bar Harbor, Maine. It is the quintessence of New England coastal living.
I highly recommend this little town located on Mount Desert Island at the base of Acadia National Park. A tourist spot? Totally. Charming? Definitely. A must see.

It also turned out to be my favorite camping spot. Rustic without roughing it. (Aka: warm showers, clean toilets, and enforced quiet hours.) One of the things I really liked about this campground was the separation of tent sites and camper sites. Not that I don't like campers... in fact by this point in the trip I had camper at the top of my Christmas list. However, it was nice to have a quiet, natural setting.
When we arrived at the Bar Harbor Campground, I made nice with the lady at the office and casually asked her about wildlife. She laughed and said, "oh, honey, the only thing we have have around here is deer and squirrel." I think I let the words I love you escape my lips, but I did refrain from wrapping her in a bear hug.

Out of all the campgrounds I had scoped online, this was the one that I was most nervous about. 1.) They don't take reservations. 2.) Their website looks like something I could have designed (that's not much) 3.) When I called, the guy laughed and said I definitely wouldn't have trouble getting a site (later I found out that it isn't peak camping week, hence the laughter)

But it was cheap. And it was the closest one to the town. So we tried it.
I am SO glad we did. If you are ever going to Bar Harbor and need a place to camp, this is perfect. Check out the view:
The fall colors were at peak that week (1st week of October). It was cold, but not unbearable. I did sleep in my earmuffs and gloves, but I SLEPT. Like a baby. Without loud teenagers, honking geese, rabid dogs, or bears.

October 19, 2009

There and Back Again

Twelve years ago, before kids, my hubby and I took our first "real" vacation. We loaded up the car and drove. No reservations. No definite plans. Our final destination was Bar Harbor, Maine, but we took our time getting there. We visited places with funny names like Intercourse, Bird-in-Hand, and Kennebunk.
One night we drove until it was almost dark. As we arrived in Freeport, Maine, we stopped and asked the locals about a place to camp. After following the directions and setting up camp in the dark we felt like we were in the middle of nowhere. When we awoke the next morning, we found the most wonderful surprise. Our campsite was right on the coast of Maine.
Some things are worth doing again.

This year, our family vacation included a blast from the past: Recompence Shores

Check out the view from beyond our tents.

At low tide, the kids had a beautiful playground of nature
We had the entire peninsula to ourselves, which was so nice but would prove to be a problem for me.
We enjoyed several hours of exploring, pretending, and enjoying nature.
Just before sunset, we noticed a beautiful flock of Canadian geese that landed in the water (the little dots above the kids' heads in the picture). There were hundreds of them. This intrigued me because I've only seen maybe 20 or so fly together in the V pattern. I didn't know that many birds would hang out together.

Well, well, well, it seems that just like humans, geese get rowdy when the crowd gets big. As soon as the sun set they started getting restless. We laughed and joked about it as we enjoyed our s'mores. By bedtime it had turned to nervous laughter, as in hoping they quiet down soon haha kind of laughter.

As was our nightly ritual, we put out the fire, piled into one tent, played UNO by flashlight and then got ready for bed. Up until this point when we were actually in civilization the girls had slept in one tent, and the rest of us had slept in the big tent. Unfortunately, my oldest daughter and I figured out about the same timejust how remote of a place this was. She didn't want to sleep without a grown up and neither did I. Oh wait. I am the grown up.

There was no way to fit all 5 of us into one tent, so we drew straws. Okay, in reality, hubby doesn't fit in the little tent so he got to stay put. I volunteered to sleep with our 8 year old daughter, and nervous daughter got to stay in the "safe" tent with the boys.

I used the geese as an excuse of not being able to go to sleep, but my hunter-husband assured me that they would get quiet as they bed-down for the night.
I'm buying him a Hunter's Guide to Canadian Geese for Christmas.

Truthfully, I'm not really sure when geese sleep. Between the hours of 11pm and 5am they quarrel, bicker, fight, wrangle, feud, argue, squabble and mate. Loudly.
I'm thinking the boys from Pennsylvania should come hunting.

Since I couldn't go to sleep, I let my mind wander. It wandered to mathematical word problems such as:

1. If a family of 5 is located 3.2 miles from the nearest cell phone service and 1.6 miles from any other human being, how loud would they have to yell if a bear attacked their flimsy little tents in the middle of the night?

2. If a pack of wild dogs/coyotes (which I did, in fact hear) attacks a family of 5, what is the mathematical induction that there would be survivors, given that the only form of weapon is a 5 inch pocket knife?

3. How long would it take if a woman drove 5 miles to town, purchased a firearm, and illegally killed 472 Canadian geese?

I never thought I'd see daylight. If I did survive the night, I knew I would emerge from the tent with a head of white hair. Thank you, Jesus, for Revlon.

At one point, this conversation actually occurred between hubby and I:
Me: Psssst! Are you awake?
Him: Well, I am now.
Me: Did you hear those wild dogs?
Him: Yes
Me: What are we going to do?
Him: I'm going to go back to sleep
Me: I CAN'T sleep, I'm scared.
Him: Okay
Me: Will you go with me to the bathroom? (paint bucket at the tree line of our site)
Him: Yup
Me: I'm scared. I can't sleep. I'm going to sleep in the car.
Him: And leave our daughter in the tent by herself?
Me: Well..... I guess not.
Him: Here, you'll feel safer with this as he hands me the pocket knife
Really? Because those wild things will have to get within 5 inches for this to even be effective.

Back in the tent, I shake daughter awake.
Me: Do you want to go sleep in the car with me? It will be so fun!
Her: Why? Why do we need to sleep in the car if we are sleeping in the tent?
Me: Because I can't sleep, um, with those birds making all that noise.
Her: Sssnore

I'm really trying to be a good sport, but 2 out of 3 nights with barely a wink is stretching it. Would I go back to Recompence Shores? Yes. With a sound-proof tent and a 9mm.

The redeeming factors? The memories we made and photos like this:
We're only half way through our camping trip. So, stay tuned... ;)

October 18, 2009

Sunday Rest

Jesus said, “I have told you these things,

so that in me you may have peace.

In this world you will have trouble.

But take heart! I have overcome the world."

~John 16:33

October 12, 2009

Welcome to the Rock

After our all-night party with the boys next door, we hit the road again. This time we headed east. East, as in all the way to the sea. I slept through parts of Pennsylvania, New York, and Connecticut. We arrived in Plymouth, Massachusetts ready to learn about our forefathers.
Plimoth Plantation (that's how they spell it, really) is a must-see if you have school age children. Even though we were the only adults under the age of 65 that day, it truly is a great place for kids.
This is the sleep deprived mama that almost ended up in the 5 o'clock news. But she is happy now. Hubby spoke her language and found a Starbucks.

We enjoyed the harbor of Plymouth, too. (my pictures are out of order, but you get the point)
My little man got to help the settlers cut some firewood. He worked until they had sawn (sawed, did saw -??) all the way through. The actors are so good with kids. They only speak to you as if it were the 1600's. How heartwarming it was to hear "Godspeed" and "God go with you"... something we just don't hear anymore without someone getting offended.

When I saw this guy all I could think of was Magua from Last of the Mohicans.
While I was inside a hut with the kids, he walked past my husband and said, "wha's up, dude."
Hmmm... I didn't know Magua was so cool!

Back at the harbor, we had to see THE rock. I mean, our nation was built on this thing.
A giant arbor is built over the rock, with a big wrought iron fence around it. I was expecting more than a 3 foot piece of concrete, but hey, this is America. After all, we built this city on rock-n-roll... (anyone have that classic Starship song dancing through your head now?) For a point of reference, that little white thing to the right of the rock is a piece of gum. Yep, only in America would someone try to leave their mark on the very foundation of democracy with Juicy Fruit.
The harbor was full of beautiful ships, but we were headed for the mother ship. The Mayflower II is an exact replica of the original one, or so the man taking our money said. Word to the wise, if you happen to visit Plymouth, Plimoth, Plimouth - whateva, I would say don't waste your money on touring the ship. Not that exciting, unless your kids think pee pots are totally cool. Remember, we were into new forms of toilets by that point, so it redeemed itself.

When we arrived at our camping destination for Plymouth, Mass. I was hoping that the name of the camp ground would be an indication of how the night would go: Ellis Haven
Haven, as in rest, sleep, slumber, quiet.

As I went in to the office I put on my sweetest, most southern belle voice and told the woman of our horrible previous night. She took sympathy and gave us the quietest spot in the campground with a bathhouse a stone's throw away. With HOT showers.

I need to just go ahead and address the elephant in the room. I am a novice camper. We've camped before, but it had been awhile. Like 10 years and 3 children ago. So this was a learning experience for me. A step outside of my comfort zone.

When I read in my trusty AAA campground book that there was a fee for hot water, I was a little surprised; but by the time we made it to the campground, I was ready to sell my kidney for cash if need be. No wonder the woman seemed startled when I asked how many quarters it would take for 60 minutes of hot water. I wasn't kidding.

Ellis Haven lived up to its name. Hot showers, {enforced} quiet hours, clean sites. Never mind the fact that we felt like we stepped into a 1960 RV time warp. It was QUIET.

While the kids enjoyed hotdogs over the campfire, I had New England bay scallops.
Just because we're roughing it, doesn't mean I can't enjoy the local fare. ;)

Little did I know just how thankful I would be for our nice quiet night...

The Never Ending Day

While my faithful readers were getting organized, I was on vacation. Sorry if I misled you to think that I was actually getting organized along with you. Oh the beauty of pre-posting ... so that some evil lurker won't come live in our house while we were gone.

So let's backtrack a week ago, say, to Friday night...
Hubby and I had the car completely packed by 8pm, ready to pull out of the driveway by 6:30am the next morning. We live in a very quiet, almost rural neighborhood. I always park my car in the garage, but we couldn't because of the cargo box that was on top, ready for the trip. As I drifted off to sleep around midnight, I thought to myself, I think I left my purse in the front seat. I should probably go move it... nah, we've never had any trouble in the neighborhood in 8 years. At 4:30 am our doorbell rang. Of course our watchdog went nuts over the doorbell. My fearless hubby went downstairs to answer it, only to find no one there.
SERIOUSLY?! Who does a ring-n-run at 4:30?! I could understand 12-2 am, but 4:30 am???? Didn't that little hellion know that we were leaving to drive 17 hours??
I noticed all the other neighbor's lights were on, so I decided we weren't the only victims. After a call to the sheriff, I knew there would be no going back to sleep.

While it was disconcerting, it turned out to be a blessing. The sheriff came by and volunteered to do a patrol the whole week we would be gone. Oh, and my purse was still there. Thank you, Lord, for your protection!

Our week of vacation started a little earlier than we planned, but that's okay because we packed more into 7 days than I ever thought possible.

After driving for about 8 hours, we realized that we would be arriving at our reservation a couple of hours early.

Miracle of miracles, this happened to only be 7 miles out of the way:

How's that for starting off our vacation right?!
I discovered a new favorite: Hershey's Dark Chocolate with almonds. Divine.
We decided to stock up for the day week.

I mentioned reservations. Oh, did you think hotel? Nope. Camping reservations. Locust Lake Pennsylvania State Park.
Lesson #1: online reservations are not always a good idea. We should have guessed by the toothless park ranger who greeted us that the night would be unforgettable.

{That is not the ranger, it is my adorable hubby doing his favorite thing: cooking outside}

The lake itself was beautiful. We were expecting a view of this:
Instead, we got a wooded, gravel covered site.
Without running water.
And a toilet at least 3 blocks away.
Surrounded by 428 other campers.
Fortunately, my hubby had purchased a portable toilet for the trip. Oh how I love that man! I never thought I would see a toilet seat screwed to the top of a giant paint bucket as a beautiful thing. It was beautiful. Priorities change in desperate times.

So we pitched our tent and made the most of it. The kids enjoyed the campfire while hubby and I cooked dinner.
Lesson #2: Biscuits on a stick don't work, even if the website says they do. But bacon and eggs on the camp stove are perfect!

Since our day had begun before the crack of dawn, we were ready to hit the sack at 8:15.

8:30 a van full of teenage boys rolls into the adjacent campsite
9:00 hubby and kids fall asleep
9:30 son tells me he is sleeping on a rock
9:35 hubby, son and I squeeze onto a queen size air mattress
9:45 I roll off the air mattress onto said rock
10:00 party next door gets started
11:15 I consider politely asking them to tone it down, but weigh it against waking my family
11:30 annoying laughter follows multiple crude jokes from next door
12:00 John Denver (from next door) decides to serenade the entire campground
12:30 party decides to go on a hike really? do you ring-n-run too?
1:00 I drift off to sleep
1:15 party returns from hike
1:30 we've gone from crude jokes to smashing cans on the forehead no, please, allow me
1:45 swear words that I didn't even know try to pass my lips
2:00 headline: "sleep deprived mother of 3 goes on campground rampage" skips through my head
2:20 another [obviously] annoyed camper yells people are try-ing to sleep!!! I want to give a little whoot-whoot, but decide not to wake my little campers
2:30 party comes to an end and teenage boys go to sleep
2:31 caffeine from the 3lbs of chocolate that I consumed decides to kick in

We were up with the sun the next morning and I may or may not have been a little loud and chipper as I announced to the boys next door to my family that it was time to rise and SHINE!!!

After a day like that, I knew that our vacation could only get better ... and it did.
But that's for another day ;)

October 11, 2009

Sunday Rest

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives
his life for his sheep. I am the good shepherd.
I know my sheep, as the Father knows me.
And my sheep know me, as I know the Father.
I gave my life for the sheep.
John 10:11,14

October 4, 2009

Sunday Rest

The truly happy people are those who
carefully study God's perfect law
that makes people free,
and they continue to study it.
They do not forget what they heard,
but obey what God's teaching says.
Those who do this will rejoice!
James 1:25

October 1, 2009

My Favorite Month

Can I hear a whoot whoot?!! October is here! Glorious month filled with pumpkins, gourds, candy corn and leaves. Oh, and a chance to decorate with all of those!

Our front door doesn't work very well for a wreath. Besides, I found that filling this watering can next to the door was a much cheaper alternative. Above is the summer look...
Now we're ready for fall.

Gotta have a little fall mo-jo

Is it weird that I put pumpkins in a nest? I couldn't figure out how to bring the entire patch indoors. Eggs for spring, pumpkins for fall? Work with me. ;)

I found this old chair rotting away in a barn. I love rustic things for my porches. I didn't do a thing to it. Something about peeling paint brings out the rustic charm. It will stay on the porch since it probably has lead-based issues.

Speaking of porches... this is our back porch dining table.

My mother bought me a ginormous (this was recently added to the American Dictionary, so cool!) bag of candy corn. I torture my children by having it up on our mantle.
Actually, I found the joke is on me, because they torture me with "can I have some candy corn" 3,458 times a day. But that's okay, because it is October and we just started fall break!