Friday, November 6, 2015

Confession # 327; Sometimes a little bit of Christmas can last an entire year!

It is November, and I know some of my friends are already busy decorating their homes for Christmas.  They're putting lights on their house, setting up the tree, and making things beautiful.  I'm not there yet.  I usually wait until Thanksgiving is over to decorate for Christmas. 
But I have a little confession to make.  I still have something hanging up from last year's Christmas.  Last year I started hanging up all the Christmas photo cards our friends and family mailed us.  Well, technically I've been doing this for years.  I just love to look at them during the holidays, and who doesn't love actual snail mail these days?  But last year I just never took them down.  Never. 
Some time in January I decided that if I left them up there, every time I walked by them I would be reminded of a family.  Someone to pray for, a nice memory shared, or just admiration that they could get all of their children to look at the camera and smile at the same time.  I pass by this wall dozens of times a day.  I can pray for the family that last year adopted two sweet children as they added to their family.  I can think about our Kansas friends and family who we haven't seen in 19 months, and I can feel good about new friendships we've made.  But each time, I can pray for one of these beautiful families.  And I know without the reminder of seeing their picture on the wall, I would probably forget.  
So I know how hard it is to take family pictures.  We do it every year and it still doesn't seem to get easier.  Yes my kids are more bribable now, but smiling and looking at the camera at the same time is still a struggle!   I know the time it takes to order cards, address them, and mail them.  I know the expense in mailing them out.  But seriously, it's worth it!  I have enjoyed these for almost an entire year now!  And I'll take them down soon, it is November already!  

Friday, October 30, 2015

When Did Halloween Become So Much More Than a Day?

Okay guys, I'm going to be honest with you.  This week has about killed me.  It's Halloween week.  Yah, I don't know when it became a week instead of a day, but it's a week now.  Things started up last weekend with different church and community events and have continued all week long.  This week, my kids have been invited to three different Halloween parties, two birthday parties, there's a middle school dance and church Halloween event.  It is too much folks for this mama to handle!  Some of you are super moms and this is no big deal, but I am not. 

It's not even Halloween and I am completely over it.  Seriously, over it.  Like no trick or treating for my kids this year over it.  Gasp!  I know, just being honest, even when some of you will think I'm completely crazy and a terrible mom.   

Added into the mix of Halloween - It's national red ribbon week and while I support the cause, I'm exhausted by the effort it takes to fully "celebrate" it with my four children.  The elementary school had different things the kids were supposed to wear each day.

"Hat's off to being drug free"  - wear your favorite hat.
"I have the power to be drug free" - dress up as your favorite super hero.
"Follow your dreams, don't do drugs."  - wear your pajamas.
"Join the fight against drugs." - wear camo.
"Peace out to drugs."  - wear hippie attire.
"My character counts, I'm drug free" - dress as your favorite book or movie character.
"It's cool to be a nerd, say no to drugs,"  - wear nerd attire or your Halloween costume. 

The middle school had other things the kids were to wear each day and, of course, they were on different days from the elementary school.  And I'm not even sure how to tell you that when my kids asked Chris what a hippie was he described a group of people that was, in fact, generally known for high drug use. So why dress like them?  A bit ironic!  He told the kids to ask their teachers more about that, but I think they all ignored him.  You're welcome teachers!  Now, I'm not sure if it overwhelmed my kids or if some of them are just not "joiners" but none of them dressed up every single day.  It was just too much for all of us I guess. 

So last night was trick-or-treat night.  We went to swim practice in a neighboring town.  We didn't get back to town until almost 7pm.  And then we had a choice.  Throw on our costumes and trudge through town for candy (you can only imagine how much candy four kids can accumulate), or skip it.  So I did the natural thing, I bribed my kids.  I told them if we skipped trick-or-treating I would take them to Wal-Mart and let them pick out any bag of Halloween candy they wanted. I promised it would be there's to keep and not be thrown into a big shared bowl.   Oh my gosh, they actually agreed!  So we went Wal-Mart, got our candy, and then went out to dinner.  It was so much better!  And, don't worry, my kids still got to dress up today for school.  Who knows what we'll actually do on Halloween! 

At Applebee's.
My little kitty cat.

Captain America.
Missy Franklin, Olympic swimmer.
An American middle schooler.  "I think I'm getting too old to dress up."

Monday, September 21, 2015

A Quick Trip to Kansas

Last week we had to make a quick trip to Kansas to attend my Grandma's funeral.  We left Sunday after church and were back late Tuesday night.  We spent 30 hours in the car in three days!  And man, were we tired when we got back.  So while we wish we would have had time to visit more friends and family, it just wasn't possible this trip.  But we're planning to go back home for Thanksgiving so hopefully we'll catch up with more people then. 
It's been about 18 months since we've been back to Kansas.  While I try to describe to Kentuckians how flat parts of Kansas are and how windy it is, they just don't get it.  So here are a few pictures to show what I mean. 


And Kansas wind...
And I know some of you don't see much.   If you're used to mountains and forests, this might not look like much to you.  But man, I think Kansas is beautiful.  Kansas sunsets are amazing!  Like, indescribably amazing.  The colors, wow!  I can't even see a sunset here in Kentucky.   And storms rolling, you can see so far across Kansas that watching storms rolling in is just a stunning experience.  They are real storms with lightening, hail, wind, and many times dark and churning, swirling clouds.  They're awesome.  And nothing reminds me of how powerful God is like watching a tremendous storm roll through.  So far in Kentucky, we've mostly experienced gentle rain showers. It's just different.  We LOVE the mountains, forests, and lakes of Kentucky.  They provide us a lot of fun on our Saturdays!  And we get to do things we just never could in Kansas.  But we do miss watching the Kansas skies! 
It was good to go back home.  We were able to see a lot of relatives and that was such a great thing!  And we had some amazing people from our church that took such good care of us.  As we got ready to head west, we were given two giant baskets full of food for the road.  They must know us well because we always picnic on road trips.  It's too expensive to travel otherwise.  So we were given food for meals and loads of snacks and drinks for the drive.  Some other sweet friends also gave us money for gas and travel expenses along the way.  You cannot imagine how much that helped us make this trip.  We felt very loved for sure!
It was a quick trip, but such a good one too!  We're looking forward to Thanksgiving and catching up with everyone soon! 

Monday, August 31, 2015

The Moons Visit the Moonbow.

Friday night we drove down to Lake Cumberland to try and see the famous moonbow.  If you've never heard of a moonbow, (like me) it's a pretty awesome and rare thing to see.  Basically, a moonbow is a rainbow created by light reflecting off the full moon instead of the sun like a rainbow.  It looks like a big white rainbow.  They say you can only see moonbows in a couple places in the world.  And this was just two hours from our house.  Pretty cool. 

We went down with the Rose family and spent time at their campsite roasting hot dogs and marshmallows, lighting twigs on fire, and catching frogs.  Good times! 


Then once it was dark out we went over to the waterfall.  We (and a couple hundred of our closest friends!) stood on the edge to watch to moonbow come out.  It was really beautiful, but clearly not something I could photograph well with my cell phone.  It looks white in person, but if you know what you're doing with your fancy camera and shutter speed, you can also see the colors in the moonbow.  I found this picture online. 

As we were walking back to our car we had a friendly encounter with a little snake crossing our path (looked like a copperhead).  And then a few minutes later Ronna, Ben and I SWORE we heard a rattle snake by our feet.  I'm not going to lie, apparently I'm not a good mom because I dropped Isabella's hand and took off.  I didn't even drag her with me!  Seriously.  Who does that? 

We headed home and got back around 1am.  We wish we could have camped out, but we had to be at Cave Run Lake early Saturday morning to watch Sophia race.  It was a long day, but sometimes those are the best! 

Friday, July 31, 2015

The Great Moon Camping Trip of 2015

So, remember that time we took a family camping trip where all six of us and our dog camped for nine straight days in the same tent.  Where we drove through ten states and travelled more than 2,500 miles together pulling a trailer...going slower than the speed limit.  Where we stopped at what seemed like every single rest stop on the highway.  (There's an awesome app for finding those by the way)!  That time when we bought the new inflatable mattress right before the trip, but it clearly had no ability to hold air throughout the night.  Where we forgot to hook up the brake lights on the trailer one day and drove through heavy city traffic and some rain without any problems.  Thank you, Jesus.  That time where we hiked, kayaked, swam in the ocean, watched sunsets and sunrises, searched for seashells, ate lobster and saw a beautiful light house.  That time where we realized you have to get up at 4:45am to (barely) catch the sunrise off the coast of Maine, because the sun rises freakin' early there!  That time where we had tons of campfires, too many s'mores, and used lots of bug spray. 

Oh, right, that was last week!  We just got back from basically my dream vacation.  I've always wanted to travel to Maine.  Always.  Chris got excited once he started looking at the map.  He found just about every state and national park or forest along the route to check out.  And we had so much fun along the way.  Seriously, we didn't even get sick of each other which I'd say is a pretty big miracle because we spent a lot of time together!  

Since I took over 600 pictures - yikes - it's really hard to shrink that experience down into one blog post, but here goes!  

Gettysburg:  We listened to a LONG cd and drove through the park.  Chris loved every second of it.  Sam thought he was going to see a battle.  He was a little disappointed, but found every cannon he could to play with.  We also got to spend some much needed time with cousins we haven't seen in way too long! 

Eastern Pennsylvania:  This place was not your classiest campground to stay, but look at this sunset over the pond.  Not bad, right? 

Birthday Boy:  Sam turned seven while on vacation.  It was a bit pitiful really.  It was one of our heavy driving days, we went through six states that day.  He got some toys early in the morning at the campground.  Then that night we celebrated with some grocery store cupcakes.  The poor things had gotten turned over in our cooler and were completely smashed and gross looking.  He really didn't mind too much at all! 

The Lighthouse:  This was the number one thing I wanted to see.  It was beautiful, especially at sunset.  And my crazy kids - and dog - loved climbing around all the rocks on the coastline.

We checked out Old Orchard Beach before leaving the Portland area.

And you have to be a little touristy and stop by LL Bean when passing through Freeport.
Acadia National Park:  We had a great time camping out and cooking on the grill!
This tent is AMAZING!  It seriously comes together in a couple of minutes.  The poles are built in.  So, so nice! 
The kids played in the unbelievably freezing cold ocean.  If you look closely, they're the only crazy ones actually out in the water! 
Can you believe this coastline was only a 5 minute walk from our campsite? 
We were silly tourists who tried lobster and blueberry ice cream in Bar Harbor!
We kayaked one morning in Acadia and Max tried out his new life jacket.  He was a bit nervous at first in the kayak, but he started to settle down after a while. 
He looks thrilled!
We hiked up to the top of the Bubbles and drove up Cadillac Mountain to check out the views.
We ended our visit to Acadia with a sunset picnic at the ocean where we a ton of beautiful seashells. 
Vermont:  Then we headed to Vermont and found a great campground that only cost $10 in the Green Mountain National Forest.  You guys, you've got to visit Vermont. Every single town we drove through was ridiculously charming.  Every. Single. One.  Like quaint little ski towns that are overflowing with flower boxes and old fashioned street lights.  I so want to go back there! 
And look at this view in the morning when we headed out! 
Lake Erie: Then we drove to Headlands Dunes, Lake Erie and got to see it at Sunset! 
The kids had a lot of fun here and the water was warmer than the ocean! 

And finally, we headed home the next morning.  Such a great vacation!  Chris is already trying to figure out where to go next summer!