the very favorites

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And yet in all of the festivities, these are the very best moments of all.

Morning coffee on the porch, everyone greeting the day slow, groggy-eyed holding warm mugs and snuggling.

Brothers bent over tackle box.

Auntie feeding nephew.

His little round tummy and bright happy eyes.

Sisters in a row, catching up and catching wind in their hair.

Sibling date (sans our kids!) in the town of Watkins Glen, getting pizza and Ben & Jerry’s and the most delightful little yarn store.

Walking the marina together.

Tubing and wakeboarding and running the boat until it ran dry.

Campfire gatherings in the evening, knitting and talking and playing guitar.

Squirt guns and barefoot bike rides and bubbles.

The boy coloring all over his body and face during nap time, “Line Man” as daddy declared him.

Mom and Dad stealing away for a tandem kayak in the whipping sun and wind.

Nap time watercolor quiet.

All the babies sleeping soundly under quilts.

Early morning glory in the sky and last sunsets set aflame with 4th of July fireworks.

All this glory, all these holy ordinary moments, hemmed in by sunrises and sunsets.  Morning and evening, days ticking by, and us trying to squeeze from them every last drop, us trying to savor this never-to-be-repeated now.  These are the very best moments of all, the ones we almost miss, the ones we pass over.  It’s all good, but these are my favorite.

(Other trip posts here, here, and here.)

 

origins

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These are among some of my favorite pictures from our New York trip.  What special times they were, filled with a lot of significance for this family.  One of the goals for our trip was to see Brandon’s family’s roots, the places where his parents grew up and met, the schools and streets they walked, the trails they frequented.  Many of these places are also the soil for Brandon’s earliest and happiest memories.  For years I have heard stories of all of these places–what a thing to be able to visit them and to watch the next generation running through these familiar fields.

So one day of our trip we spent hiking Watkins Glen State Park right by Seneca Lake, climbing through the moody canyon.  The pictures speak for themselves, don’t they?  It was gorgeous and when we finished a huge downpour threatened to fall, so we made it out in perfect time.

Another day we drove to Breesport, NY and drove through the rolling country roads to the big yellow house where they spent their first years as a family, caretaking for a big abandoned asylum.  This house holds some of their happiest days, the house with the pond and a white duck named Ellen, who came when Brandon’s dad would call and laid eggs for their family to eat.  The swing set they played on and the sloping hill that is perfect for sledding.  From there we went onto Elmira, seeing Brandon’s grandparent’s home, visiting with them there, walking the grassy trail behind their house to the creek they caught crawdads and splashed in.

I count us fortunate to have been able to see and share these places with Brandon’s parents and grandparents while we still can!

a love worth traveling miles for

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As the shadows lengthened, we left the party and took the kids to a nearby little amusement park, just perfect for them.  They’ve never experienced anything like that, so they were filled with glee running from ride to ride with their tickets.  Philippa was obsessed with the “ore-sees” (horsey’s) on the merry-go-round and probably rode it several times over, eventually realizing the ticket was her way in, and just walking up to the gate with a ticket and waiting there until the attendant saw her.  They all loved it and every day after Phoebe and Noah asked me if we could go back.

arriving

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Earlier in the year Brandon’s parents began talking to us about a family trip to upstate New York (where they are originally from) to surprise Brandon’s grandparents for their 60th wedding anniversary.  We were really excited because 60 years of marriage is a huge accomplishment and worth the long haul to gather and celebrate.  Also, we looked forward to seeing all of Brandon’s roots and having some time together as a family.  Brandon’s dad offered to rent a large home on Seneca Lake that would house us all.  Since it is about a 12-hour drive from home, we decided to split it up into two day chunks.  The first day we drove (and by “we” I mean Brandon.  He let me knit the whole way!) to Luray, Virginia, met up with everyone (Brandon’s parents, brother + wife + baby, and sister) and did a fun tour of Luray Caverns.  We spent the night there, got up early and headed to Seneca Lake.  Isn’t it gorgeous countryside?

The home Dad rented was just perfect.  Absolutely beautiful and with an incredible sunrise view every morning, tucked away at the very end of a laneway situation behind a hops farm.  The kids had been anticipating this for weeks and were nearly beside themselves with excitement to spend a whole week with Baba + Nain (Brandon’s parents) at a lake!  After we arrived, we unloaded and promptly deep-cleaned the entire kitchen (making it a gluten-free celiac safe-zone for our Phoebe girl, such a gift to us!), the kids were out on the water.  Brandon took them all out for a paddle boat ride, and then Phoebe wanted to upgrade to a tandem kayak with Baba before deciding she would just manage her own little boat.  She is pretty amazing in the water, fearless and quick to learn.

The next morning Brandon was trying to sneak out of our room at the crazy hour of 4:45 or something.  He couldn’t wait to go fishing.  I crept out after him and literally gasped when I looked out toward the dock and saw the sun swelling up just ready to burst over the horizon.  I grabbed my camera and nearly ran out to get pictures and take it in.  It was so serene and stunning, we couldn’t help but get up at least by 5 am every morning to catch each sunrise.  It’s dumb, I’m sure–we should have been sleeping in on vacation–but we don’t get to see that kind of glory every day and in our minds, it was worth it.  Every day boasted a different sky, each sunrise and sunset entirely new.  It was pretty incredible and I relished the early morning quiet, reading, sipping coffee, knitting to the quiet sounds of the lake.