Friday, June 29, 2012

In which you cast a vote

So, after all the baby and kid knitting I've been doing, I'd like to work on a larger project - namely, one for me. With a baby due to be born in time for autumn, I'm thinking I'd like to do a new cardigan, one that buttons at the top but not the bottom, that would work well for a few months of winter nursing. However, I'm having decision-making problems (I'll put it down to pregnancy brain and leave it at that), and I'd like your help! Cast your vote for my next project, won't you?

First, we have the Rocky Coast Cardigan. By far the most ambitious project on my list, it's also one of the prettiest.

Anything with the word Effortless in the name has to be good. Not sure if this style would suit me, though - any thoughts?
 Coraline is another nice, subtle yet interestingly-yoked cardi.
 Peasy has been on my list for a while and I love the lace work across the front.
 Audrey in Unst is pretty and simple. I'd have the flexibility to button all the way or only the top, but I think I'd need to lengthen the body a bit - the cropped look doesn't tend to suit me.

 Honey. Love the cables - not too little, not too much.
 Finally, it's Celery. I really like the texture of knitting one direction, then knitting the other way for the edge.
Personal favorites, please, with reasons why for bonus points!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

I've been bitten... the organizing bug.
I'm totally blaming Pinterest, by the way (isn't it great to have something else to blame?) Why do people have to share such clever ideas? And yet I'm so happy they do...
So, here are some of the ideas I'm hoping to implement this week (or next, or sometime I have energy and before the baby comes):
This would have been so helpful that (one!) time we were pulled over - couldn't find anything in the messy glove box!
 I don't think I'll do it exactly like this, but I am inspired - currently the bed linens are tossed onto high shelves with great hopes they won't fall on anyone's head.
 This would be great in both my bathroom and the kids' bathrooms, leaving shelf space for "pretty things".
 Now, I don't think I'll go this far in the car, but again - inspirational. I love how it's all there, but in the trunk, away from nosy hands. Didn't know hands could be nosy, huh? I assure you, it's possible.
 I might be most excited about this one. I am so weary of traipsing up and down the stairs looking for various school/craft tools and stashing them on random shelves or dark and dusty nooks because they don't have a decent home. Finally, homes for the homeless supplies!
All these ideas and more are on my Pinterest board - none of them have I been clever enough to come up with myself!

I know there are others out there getting their homes/school supplies/lives sorted out this summer. What are some good ideas you've come across?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Reading - 50 People Every Christian Should Know

This book has been sitting on my bedside for a while, and I've rather enjoyed picking it up and slowly working my way through it:
Basically a set of mini-biographies, 50 People...was a faith-building and easy-to-read collection perfect for reading shortly before you drop off each night. The chapters are pretty short, though I think Moody was an exception - not surprisingly, since the author was also a former pastor at Moody Church. As well as chronicling the basics of each saint and their ministry, he also helpfully lists any books they authored that (he felt ) might be of special interest to the reader.
I love the little anecdotes or quotes that really put flesh on these godly men and women: Samuel Chadwick contending for the true gospel, "Until you have got a gospel that works - shut up! This is not an age for twiddling your thumbs!"; of William Borden, "The sight of that young millionaire kneeling with his arm around a 'bum' in the Yale Hope Mission (impressed a visitor to America)"; a young Fanny Crosby wrote of her math lessons, "I loathe, abhor, it makes me sick, To hear the word Arithmetic!"
One thing that I particularly noted throughout was how hard these amazing people worked! Some were college and seminary educated, some were working 12 hour shifts at a cotton mill (followed by several more hours of study), but every one of them worked to a degree that is unlikely to be seen today. From Katherine Von Bora to J.C. Ryle, Charles Spurgeon to William Culbertson, they poured out their lives to the people God gave them to serve, and considered it an honor to do so.
My one reservation is that there were so many people included that by the time I got halfway through, I could no longer remember the distinctiveness of each individual. I met some new folks, learned some new names, but probably would have remembered them each a little better if I read about 25 of them, rather than 50. But thankfully, the book now lives on my shelf, where I can happily consult it for memory refreshers.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Tearing Down the House

The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down.  Proverbs 14:1

As I read this chapter one morning recently, I began to think, "How do I tear down the house (family) I am trying to build?" There are four areas, for me, that I identified as potential threats to building the kind of house that honors and blesses God and others:
  1. Anger.  Those who live with me (and few others, I suspect) are well aware of my propensity to anger, and while "righteous" anger is biblically defensible, mine is not, no matter self-righteous I might feel at the time.  My anger toward those who inconvenience me or thwart my plans injure my relationships with my husband and children, grieve Christ, and threaten to reflect the life of a Christian as that of a hypocrite. And all that - for what? There is no way that I have been offended or put upon that I haven't done to someone else, or more importantly, to God Himself. He has so freely forgiven me, how can I refuse to forgive someone else?
  2. Impatience.  When I make a request or give a direction, I want it done yesternow. Again, my need for efficiency and ease turns my home into an army boot camp, not a place where people are cared for and encouraged toward growth in Christ. And while I might defend my impatience with the idea that I'm impatient with the behavior and not the person, it's the person that gets the dubious "benefit" of my ire.
  3. Selfishness. It's all about me. You knew that, right? Well, apparently, not everyone does, because some people around here have the audacity to need something from me when it doesn't suit me. Sometimes children injure themselves or get sick when I had important plans. And sometimes, sometimes, someone needs me to get up out of my chair just as soon as I've sat down. Happen to you? Yet when I mistakenly work on the assumption that it's all about me and my plan, I miss opportunities to serve my family and be blessed in serving them. I also miss the blessing of being served by them, since I act as if I already deserve their kindness to me.
  4. Pride. Somehow, this seems to be the heart of all the other stuff, the sin from which all the other sins find their beginnings. I think I know the best, or see the issue clearly, or simply shouldn't have to deal with my family's "issues" because I have better or more important things to do. And I forget - this is why I'm here, in this family, with these children. I'm here to bring the truth of the Gospel to bear on my family's life, and I cannot do that if I insist on presuming that I'm above it all.
So, what do I do about all this? How do I continue to pursue wisdom in building this house, rather than giving way to folly? To be sure, I'm still working this and will continue to work on it until Heaven. For now, though, the need for the sturdy disciplines of Bible reading, continuous prayer and Christian accountability are so important. Bible reading informs my mind with the revealed mind of God, prayer postures my needy heart before a powerful God, and Christian accountability makes the burden shared and the need taken seriously.
I want to be wise. I want to build my house as an altar to the Lord. I don't want to tear it down, wounding the people within, so I must commit myself to the hard and humbling work of submitting my will and plans before the Lord and allowing Him to change them, for my good and His glory.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Kid knitting - Gathering Stripes

When I showed Noah a bunch of patterns that I'd be willing to make for him and he chose this one, I groaned. A whole sweater in tiny little sock yarn? That'll take forever! Or not, as it happens...
 Though not my particular color choices, the Cascade Sock Yarn was wonderful to work with, and the whole thing was fun to make. I love top-down construction. Plus, this yarn is super comfy, not at all itchy and has a great drape to it. This might be one he actually gets some wear out of (though not for a couple more months, anyway).
I've noticed that there is an adult version. Hmmm...I might just be up for a whole lot of sock yarn knitting...

Friday, June 22, 2012

Baking Day

For baking day this week, the girls made Double Treat Cookies together. The cookies are mega-messy, but mega-yummy. Try them out yourself, but get the kids to do the mixing...
 Double Treat Cookies
2 cups white sugar
1.5 cups brown sugar
2 cups shortening
2 cups peanut butter
4 eggs
3 cups flour
6 cups oats
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp salt
 4 tsp baking soda
2 cups chocolate chips
Have your kids mix it all together by hand (Abi says be sure to do it really well). Gotta be with the hands - don't cheat with a spoon or mixer! Form into small balls and bake at 400F for 10 min.

They're worth the mess, truly.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Sometimes... kids drive me up a wall. Truly. I can be baffled by how petty, spiteful and downright mean they can be to each other, or how difficult and stroppy they can be with their dad and I. I shouldn't be surprised, of course - the same sin that's in me is in their hearts as well, but still...
It's about this time that I realize that I need to focus on and be thankful for the grace I do see in their lives - the kindnesses, the opportunities they've taken to serve someone other than themselves, or the growths in godliness. Because it is there, really - I just need the eyes to see and celebrate...
  • Anna and Ellie caring for Noah when he fell off his bike
  • Abi putting away Ellie's clean clothes
  • Noah offering to help with chores
  • Abi helping Anna with her piano music
  • All being quick to hug and play with Dan
  • Anna changing a dirty diaper
  • Abi helping Ellie in the shower
  • Ellie cheerfully doing her chores.
Most of these things are little things and don't always happen regularly, but they help remind me that God is at work in their lives and things aren't as bad as I am tempted to think on the rough days.

How has your child unexpectedly blessed you this week?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Baby Knitting - Wyatt

The photos are pretty lousy (dark room + iPhone camera, you know), but the sweater itself is lovely. I am so gonna love snuggling my new little babe in this!
The pattern is well worth the investment, as I foresee making a few more of these for the other kids and even gifts, since it's truly a unisex pattern. I like the detail of the "stripes" without it being too busy and too...much. The nice surprise is the pattern called for 2 skeins of Malabrigo, which I duly purchased, but as it turns out, I only needed the one. Extra yarn!

I've now cast on for another In Threes with this same yarn. There are going to be some brightly-colored, toasty warm babies this autumn!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Keepers of the Home

A couple weeks ago, our girls celebrated the end of the year for their Keepers at Home group. For those who have never heard of this group, Keepers at Home is very similar to Girl Scouts or Girl Guides, but with a very specific Christian element. They learn skills and participate in service opportunities, but also have the chance to grow in Bible reading and memorization. Each meeting (our group meets monthly) has a focus for learning (baking, first aid, etc) but also is tied into a Bible Study - looking into God's Word is a priority.
So, the planning committee thought it would be appropriate to celebrate all the girls had done and accomplished this past year by hosting an awards banquet, as well as showing off some what they learned through various displays.
Some of the topics covered this year included health and fitness...
 ...cookie baking (which most of the dads particularly appreciated)...
 ...and camping (which was sooo cold!).
All the girls had sashes with pins or bracelets with charms for their accomplishments. Dads presented their daughters with their sashes/bracelets and took a moment to commend their girls on their accomplishments and growth. It was such a special night for these girls to be honored by the men in their lives for their efforts!
I'm already looking forward to what we're going to do next year and seeing all the ways my girls will grow in ability and godliness over the coming year!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Link Love

Responding to Video Games - I'm not a fan of video games, and am thus reminded why
Don't Wait Until They're Teenagers - So needing to heed these words now...
Kevin DeYoung and Discipline - The difference between training for Christlikeness and training for my comfort and ease are crucial.
Navigating the Homeschool Community - Why homeschooling shouldn't be another "one size fits all" approach.
Why Speaking Well Makes a Difference - Saw this at a public speaking event a while back and love, love, loved it.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Sparkly Flats

I never thought I'd see the day, but it's here - I used Mod Podge and glitter together and I actually enjoyed it!
 Using this tutorial as a reference, Abigail and I pulled out a pair of our most scuffed and sad looking shoes and gave them a makeover. It was easy, not very messy and though Abi's shoes came out better than mine, they both look much better than they used to.
I suppose the days of me being able to glare, squinty-eyed, at a "crafty" mom with the accusation "I'll bet you have glitter in your house, don't you?" are over. Perhaps I have crossed over to the dark side, but it's not so bad. Abi did look at me sideways and question my true identity, but it was worth it for the smiles I got when we were done.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

5 Great Recipes You've Gotta Try

Some of my favorite recipes I got online. Here are a few:
Fresh Basil and Garlic Chive Lasagna  Not only is this the best lasagna our family has enjoyed, it's also one of the easiest to make, which means we enjoy it more.
Balsamic Chicken, Spinach and Tomato Pasta Salad  Of course, I'd eat almost anything that was covered in balsamic vinegar, but this is seriously yummy, with the seriously good benefit of getting some dark greens into the diet. Plus, the whole "cooking a meal that doesn't turn your kitchen into an inferno in the summer" benefit is hard to pass up.
Creamy Cajun Chicken Pasta  This is really quick to put together, really easy, and the kids like it. All good. You'll need the recipe for the cajun seasoning, which you can find here.
Fresh Strawberry Yogurt Cake  I know I mentioned this one a few weeks ago, but it definitely bears another mention. The strawberry season is almost over, and I don't think there is a better way to use up the rest of the season's fruit than by making a few of these cakes and enjoying them through the rest of the year. It's worth a mention that you can easily substitute sour cream for the yogurt. No one will know and it will be delicious.
Sweet and Sour Chicken  We've made this before and it won't be long before we make it again. Great use of those large packs of chicken breasts - it fed our family of 7 hungry eaters more than 2 whole meals (served with rice or tortillas).

Have a favorite recipe to share? Link up in the comments!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Getting in the Boat

While on our recent trip to Deep Creek, we had the opportunity to go canoeing. We don't do it often, though we have a canoe and have always enjoyed it, and I am so glad we had the chance to go this time. I learned more than I had anticipated.
For the first time, we split the family up between 2 canoes: Toby, Abi, Ellie and Dan in one canoe (Team A) and Noah, Anna and I were Team B in the second canoe. Neither Anna or Noah had ever used a paddle before, and I am rather inexperienced, particularly when it comes to the job of steering the boat. We crashed into a few things and got turned around a few times (though not upside down, mercifully!), but everyone had so much fun! I realized that this is my favorite family activity, and Toby and I recalled one of our very favorite dates - the 2 of us canoed at Eden Mill at dusk, with a delicious picnic dinner, and enjoyed watching the bats fly overhead and a beaver swim by.
This trip also brought to mind the last session of our premarital counselling, something about how marriage is like a boat. We don't remember much of where that analogy went, but here are some things God showed me during our canoe trip about family relationships and boating.
  1. No one does this right at first, but there is opportunity to improve and grow. At first, the kids and I bumped into a fair number of things, but less so by the end of our trip. After getting some steering tips from one more experienced than I (i.e. Toby), I was better able to steer my craft and enjoy the trip. It made me think about how necessary it is, whatever new thing we are embarking upon, to ask for help when we don't know what we are doing. In the early years of marriage and at each new stage of family life, don't expect to know how to do "this" perfectly. Ask for help, keep doing your best, and cry out to God for grace and wisdom. As Christians, we live in a community of believers that we can go to for help and encouragement - why not make use of such a rich resource?
  2. Everyone has a role to play and each role is important. The first time Toby and I ever took our canoe out, I somehow ended up spending some time in the back (stern). I can't remember if it was my idea or his (probably mine), but I do remember it was hard work. And I learned - not all jobs are created equal. It may not be a popular idea in our egalitarian culture, but there are responsibilities in marriage and family life that God calls and equips men to do, and those He ordains for women to do. Neither is of less importance than the other or more meaningful - each job is not only critical, but when the right person is doing their job, it leads to greater success and enjoyment for all in the boat. Now, for you non-boaters, a quick overview: in a boat, the guys in the stern leads and steers the boat, but he depends on the bow man to keep a keen eye out for dangers and possible interruptions in the water. Both jobs are work. If I behaved like someone just along for the ride when in the bow, we'd be in the reeds more often than not. If I tried to take over and steer the boat, I'd be fighting the rightful leader in the back and struggling to do a decent job - the rudder is always in the rear! Basically, when each of us does our job, we do a better job of staying on course and enjoying the trip.
  3. Spend some time on your knees. We learned from a good canoeing book that it can be very helpful to paddle down on one or both knees, especially when you need to dig in hard to navigate through a rough spot. I suspect we would all do well to spend more time on our knees before our King as well, especially when we need grace and wisdom to navigate our own difficult waters.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

In Which My Family Are Acrobats

Because getting ice cream at Broom's Bloom isn't exciting enough, we had to see if Daddy can hold all five children at once. Turns out he can. Show off. :) 

I love these faces.

Monday, June 11, 2012

5 Ways to Save 15 minutes

Morning is, for some reason, my busiest time of day. My kids wake up early (which I like for the most part) and my husband leaves by 7am. I find that if I get behind in the morning, I spend several hours trying to catch up. Here are 5 things that I have found can be helpful in keeping the morning from spinning out of control:
  1. Play some classical music. It seems to do a good job of bringing some peace and tranquility into the house, and children seem a little less determined to scream over it. Sometimes. Either way, it helps me to keep a calm frame of mind, which goes quite a ways toward helping the children to do the same.
  2. Have a breakfast plan. I don't like having cereal each and every morning, but it just is quicker and easier. To cook anything, though, always seemed to take so long to search through the cupboards before I can get things started. Now, I know that Monday is oatmeal, so I can set a few things out the night before. If I want to cook on Sunday morning, I can at least have an idea the night before of what to do or even set something up in the Crock Pot. And Thursday is pancake or waffle day - batter made the night before (sensing the trend?). Even if the "night before" plan doesn't happen, it relieves some headspace to be able to look at a schedule and not have to think about what to make - just do what your schedule says.
  3. Make your to-do list the night before. I'm bad about this, but I find that if I take my list to bed with me and note things down - appointments, things that need to get done that day, etc - it's easier for me to fall asleep because I'm not trying to hold it all in my head, and I don't need to worry about finding some quiet "thinking" time to create my list while children are brawling over teeth-brushing access or the four year old needs help getting dressed.
  4. Spend some time in the Word and prayer. For Christians, this should be a non-issue, but we've all been guilty of thinking, "There's so much to do, I'm behind all ready. Let's get rolling and I'll get to it later" now and then. Yet, the Israelites gave the first fruits of their labors, and so must we, and that includes our time.  It's not a magic formula that ensures that if we spend a half an hour with God in the morning, all will go swimmingly, but when we do meet with Him, He speaks to us, changes us, and enables us to move into the trials of the day (be they big or small) with His power and grace. I'd say we all need a little more of God's power and grace.
  5. Be prepared to let something go. Everything is in order. The planning is meticulous. It's full steam ahead. But then...your husband has a dead battery. A toddler has wet the bed. Someone is sick. Two children declare war on each other and they are taking no prisoners. Whatever. Everyone has the Morning of Dread once in a while, and there is no way to plan for them. So, be flexible. Be prepared that the playdate or appointment will be canceled, you won't be able to go to the store or homeschool will be a little more video-based than normal. Do what you can do, but don't be so tied to your plan that it becomes your tyrant. Make it work for you.
What helps your morning/day go that little bit smoother?

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Link Love

Interesting article on eating
How do I, and the world around me, feel about motherhood?
Encouraging words from a mom who know what she's talking about.
I'm thinking I'll be making one or two of these skeeter traps if we're are going to enjoy a summer outdoors.
Hope you're having a lovely weekend!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Baby Knitting - Coming Home Sweater

I loved making this sweater! So sweet, easy and free - not only was this version of the pattern free, but I had the yarn in my stash. Buttons the same as here.

 I totally foresee making these in all sizes and colors, so I suspect I'll be purchasing the full pattern collection. A worthy investment, I think.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Children's Chores - Gayner style

I have had several conversations with other moms at various times and places regarding the role of chores in their families lives - conversations that have involved how old, what chores, and how much (me doing at least as much asking as answering!). One thing I've realized is that there are as many ways to tackle family chores as there are families. Here's how we do it:
  • I have a list of several daily chores for each child posted in the kitchen. Each child is responsible to make sure each thing is done after breakfast, before they run off to play or do other things for the day. If I find them at other things, I ask, "Are you finished your chores?" and am greeted with a "Yes, Mom" or "Oh, I forgot about...!" Honestly, they are not excellent about remembering all their chores, but for me, it's been more about creating an expectation of what they are meant to do. I'm trusting that, in time, the self-discipline will come.
  • Some of the daily chores we include are emptying the dishwasher (7 year old with 2 year old), feeding the dog and picking up his deposits in the yard (5 year old), running the sweeper (9 year old) and putting away any books that had been left out (4 year old). That's in addition to making beds, putting away any folded laundry, and brushing teeth.
  • When I make the lists, I go over them with each child so they fully understand the expectation. That way, it saves on the fight in the morning of how to do it and how they thought it was someone else's job. It's all there in black and white for them to consult, not down to my whim of what needs doing, which can change each day. Though I will ask a child to occasionally help me out with something that's not on the list if they finish their chores early, that's not a standard thing and I am diligent to express my thanks for going above and beyond. They need to know they are appreciated.
  • While they do their chores, I do mine. I take care of the stuff like the big vacuuming, a full cleaning of the bathrooms, a full cleaning of the kitchen, dusting and paperwork - one each weekday. That way, the stuff that I really want done a certain way gets done and they see that Mom has her work to do, just like them.
  • On Saturday, we do what has come to be known as "Cup Chores". Basically, I've written a bunch of chores on slips of paper, things like brush the dog, organize a dresser drawer, or wipe the baseboards in one room. Each kid pulls a different chore from the cup and does it. When the cup is empty, the kids are done. The older girls don't need much instruction on most of them, but I'll occasionally work with Noah on a job if he doesn't have much experience with it. Ellie tends to assist one of her sisters or plays with Dan and keeps him out of the way. This has been great for us - the kids love it and we don't have the "I always do this chore!" problem. It also gives them experience doing/learning different responsibilities.
  • We've made the decision not to pay our kids for their chores. There are several reasons behind this: we want them to learn to serve as an act of love and not for remuneration, they are totally irresponsible with money - we'd likely find it stuffed down heating vents, and I'm not sure we can afford it. My hope is that by the time the kids are able to work for pay (babysitting or yard work, etc), the training they've received at home as far as work ethic will make them in high demand for paying jobs.
So, that's what it looks like for us. It's not perfect, and there were some hiccups when we first started, but overall, it works really well for our family and the stage we're in. No doubt, as they get older and our family grows and changes, we will be looking for new methods to keep things in order.
I'd love to hear what other families do for chores - please share!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Summer School

We homeschool, and like lots of homeschoolers, we do things a little differently. One of those things has been to do school over the summer. I know it sounds mean to keep the little cherubs indoors during the best parts of the year slaving away over their workbooks, but I've learned that turning them loose seems to equate madness, bickering and almost complete stupidity. Don't get me wrong - I love my children, but I've seen what unfettered freedom can do to them. It's no good thing.
So, summer school. But it's gonna look a little different to the summer school I remember (you know, remedial, boring and generally summer-ruining). It's going to be structured but relaxed, fun yet meaningful. The kids are even excited about it, which kinda shocked me. So here's the plan...

First, the girls will be doing a fun, inductive Bible study (How to Study the Bible) that they've had some experience with 3 days a week, and some writing assignments from the Institute for Excellence in Writing the other 2 days. All the kids will spend some time working in the garden each day, be it weeding, feeding, pruning or harvesting.  It'll be a great opportunity for them to learn to care for these plants we have (maybe they'll be less inclined to rip them apart, anyway) and even do some pest/weed identification and elimination. The big girls will have a reading list that they can work from and spend some time recording thoughts and information in a reading notebook (inspiration found here), while Noah continues with his phonics book.

Now, for my favorite part. I am compiling a list of hymnwriters that the girls will read about, get to know, learn the music of and present on. With their piano teacher's help, they will (hopefully) be able to play a hymn by said writer in 2-3 weeks. For instance, the first on the list is currently Isaac Watts, who wrote "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross". Both girls will do some reading on their writer, but one will concentrate on practicing the music while the other prepares an oral presentation, which they will both have ready in 2 or 3 weeks to give to the family. Abi already knows this particular piece and Anna should have little trouble picking it up, so Anna will play and Abi will speak. Then, with the next writer, their roles will swap.

I'm really excited about all of this, though the plans are still coming together. Hopefully, we'll be ready to start next week. We've even moved our schoolroom downstairs a couple weeks ago, which means we can work downstairs when it's too hot to be upstairs or outside, and we can work in the afternoon when the little ones are in bed without fear of disturbing them.

So, that's the plan. Like all plans, it's up for renegotiation and last minute changes when needed. Coupled with this idea for directing our time in the morning, I have high hopes for a fun and productive summer!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Baby Knitting - Blue Pebble Vest

I've made this sweater vest a couple of times, now, and it never gets old. Not for me anyway.
 Yarn: Cascade 220 Heathers. Buttons from this etsy shop.
Love for the little boy who will one day wear it and anticipation of his arrival: all me.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Our Week Away

I had hoped to make this more photos than words, as photos are much more interesting than anything I have to say, but photos will have to wait. I haven't been able to download them all yet, and the ones I have got are not very good/interesting. That does not reflect our week accurately at all!
We spent the first phase of our trip in Akron visiting the Wilsons. Let me just say that they are totally worth the 7+hour trip it takes to get there. (Many are surprised at how long it takes us, but combine children who view every rest area & toilet as a field trip with a driver who follows the speed limit uber-faithfully, and it take some time). We always have fun with them, we are always encouraged by them, and we always learn from them. Fun came in the form of the several hikes we took and playing in the yard, encouragement came in our chats and the opportunity to worship with them at church, and the learning pretty much happens all the time. Two things that stand out for me are how to mediate sibling disputes by teaching them to appeal appropriately to the authority (ie, mom and dad), and the need for the kids to absorb some of their book collection into their bedrooms. The day after we got home, we picked up 2 bookshelves from yard sales. Thanks, wonderful Wilson family! :)

Phase 2 of the Gayner Family Getaway moved us about halfway back east and landing in the Deep Creek area. We stayed in a cabin at Herrington Manor State Park, and it was a perfect fit for what we wanted. Normally, we're campers, but the 6-month-pregnant lady was looking for a little more comfort (weak, I know), and this cabin was excellent. It actually had more than enough beds for all of us, electricity, a proper kitchen and bathroom - no traipsing to the shower block in the middle of the night! That alone is worth it. Also, when you stay in one of the Herrington Manor/Swallow Falls sites, you get an hour's free canoeing, which just happened to be the highlight of the trip for everyone. We hiked, we boated, we played at the beach, we sunburned, we campfired and we s'mored.
In short, we vacationed, and it was just wonderful.