California (pt 2): to the Golden Gate and beyond

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Most of the week we spent nearby the house where we were staying (my aunt and uncle’s beautiful home).  We would head out for walks and short adventures in the mornings, then spend the rest of the day by the pool.  Meanwhile I had been hoping to get to explore a bit more, driving on Rte 1, seeing the Golden Gate Bridge, and visiting the nearby yarn store A Verb For Keeping Warm.  Brandon and my dad worked some extra evening hours so that we could spend Friday out on those adventures before we flew out Saturday morning.

No trip would be complete without a forced “down day,” and Thursday was that day for us.  Phoebe and Noah both woke up with high fevers.  For the first time ever, neither of them got out of bed for an entire day.  They slept and laid in their sleeping bags listening to audio books, managing to listen to 1 1/2 books from the Narnia series.  They must have felt super awful and neither of them really ate.  Noah’s fever broke Thursday evening, Phoebe’s lasted until Friday morning.  Thankfully they were well enough for us to do our day of adventuring.  We drove again to Half Moon Bay to hit Rte. 1, then drove to the Golden Gate Bridge, marveling all along the way at the beautiful weather and beaches.  Driving across the bridge was unforgettable and we all thoroughly enjoyed taking it in.  Then we drove to Muir Woods, but hadn’t reserved parking ahead of time so we had a picnic lunch and then just hiked around above Muir Woods area.  It was still so beautiful, and the trail was covered in huge bushes of wild dill and eucalyptus!  Wren slept during the hike.

Then back in the car to drive through Sausalito to Oakland, CA where the yarn store was.  Brandon happened to find a parking spot right in front of the store, so Phoebe and I hopped out to explore.  I had some birthday spending money and was able to splurge on some really nice yarn.  I cannot wait to knit with it but I’m also hoarding it a bit because it is so, so lovely.  Experiencing AVFKW was well-worth the drive.  As I said in my last yarn along post, it was full of inspiration and beauty, the staff were very helpful and welcoming.  I could have spent an hour or two in there, but because everyone was waiting in the car I went through it as quickly as I could.  Then we drove back to the house for our last evening there.

Seeing the sights and sharing the west coast with our children was a big highlight, but spending time with my California family was also a real treat.  We don’t get to see each other very often and it was good to catch up and reconnect.  The children absolutely loved being doted on by their great auntie and great uncle.  We felt very spoiled to have had such a fun week together in all that west coast beauty.  ❤  Now, back to ordinary life here in the Appalachians! 🙂

California (pt 1): farmer’s market + half moon bay

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We had an unforgettable, extravagant week last week, quite out of our usual ordinary if you couldn’t tell from the photos!  Brandon and my dad were doing some remodeling work for the week at my Aunt and Uncle’s house in the Bay area in California.  My parents generously offered for us to all come along, and we couldn’t pass it up!  It was quite an adventure for us and required a good bit of planning on my part to be sure Phoebe would have what she needed (food-wise) for the long day of travel and the time away.  Being that we don’t usually do this sort of thing, I was a bit overwhelmed but it was such a good experience.  I’m hopeful that it communicated to Phoebe that she doesn’t have to be limited by her (celiac) disease.

It was so much fun and such an incredible treat for all of us!  To see the children experience the thrill of taking off and landing on an airplane alone was neat.

We flew out the day after my birthday, and on my birthday Philippa suddenly had a high-ish fever, so on top of last minute packing and prep I had to squeeze her in to the doctor to make sure it wasn’t something that would inhibit travel.  Thankfully, she woke up fever-free the next day.

The first day there was a Sunday (Father’s Day), and the only day we had planned to take off together (with my parents, too) to do some sight-seeing.  First we went to the local farmer’s market to get our fruits and veggies for the week.  So fun to explore a local farmer’s market any old place, but especially in California!  Afterwards, we drove to Half Moon Bay and happened to see horses along the way and then again on the beach.  Phoebe was in heaven and also very jealous that she wasn’t on horseback herself.  The beach was windy and cool, but very pleasant.  We walked around a bit, had a bite of sushi for lunch while watching a couple of seals in the marina.  Everyone felt a little groggy and off due to the time change, but they all did remarkably well!  I was blown away by the wild eucalyptus and massive nasturtium all along the roadside, as well as the beautiful garden at my aunt and uncle’s home, complete with avocado, lemon and fig trees!  It’s so incredible to explore a different part of the country.

saying goodbye to the house

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A couple of weeks ago we made a last-minute weekend trip home to my in-laws home in South Carolina.  They’ve recently decided to chase a dream of theirs and move to the beach, leaving behind this house they raised their kids in for the past twenty something years.  My husband, who is not really the sentimental sort, wanted to go see them and “say goodbye to the house.”

A house lived in this long holds a lot of life.  It is the bones of the family, in a way, holding, bearing weight, giving structure.  Most of my husband’s memories and biggest moments happened in these walls.  The Christmas mornings spent sitting with his brother + sister at the top of the stairs waiting for mom and dad to say they could come down.  The timeouts in their bedrooms.  His first love.  His first broken heart.  All the big moments, all the ordinary + mundane moments, too, that make up a life.  I remember vividly my first visit to his home, this, his world.  I remember playing guitar on the deck of the pool, laying down on his arm, feeling him counting on his fingers behind my head, counting the months until he would propose.  I remember coming to surprise his parents, driving the 2 hours from North Carolina where we live to tell them about their first grand baby growing in my womb.  It’s a special thing to bring your children home to the house you were raised in, seeing them toddling on the floors so familiar to your own shaping.

It was good that we were able to make it back for a visit one last time, make some more sweet memories together, see the youngest grand baby bond with her Baba for the first time.  So long, yellow house!

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Sunday adventures

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We have sort of unintentionally made a little family habit of drawing away on Sundays after worship, pulling away from our ordinary and escaping to the wild places nearby.  I love revisiting the same familiar haunts, but my husband is best energized in exploring.  So, we’ve sort of made a loose rule to get out somewhere new most Sundays.  We pack a bag of easy snacks + quick bites for lunch/dinner (think cold cuts, cheese, crackers, dried fruit, nuts, cold pasta salad, veggies + hummus) and usually skip naps and hit the road after church.  The kids love our adventures.  We don’t do it primarily for them, to be honest.  We do it because it refreshes and quiets and reenergizes us + our marriage in the best way.  We do it because we need the shift in perspective. But we definitely do it for them as well.  Children are so full of wonder, awe, and a natural ability to enjoy and to go slow.  Familiar black swallowtails, bumblebees and wild mountain blueberries become brand new again through their eyes.  We love (and sometimes hate) how they continually force us to slow our pace to keep in step with them rather than our usual habit of hurrying them to keep up with us.  It’s good for us.  Being with them reminds me almost daily of Jesus’ words:

“Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven”  (Matthew 18:3).

What is it about children that Jesus found so essential?  I wonder if it isn’t their simplicity.  Their easy joy over the simplest of wonders.  Their unhurried ways.  Their bright hopefulness and trust, their dependency without worry.  I want to be more like that.  When I watch them running and laughing I find myself thinking, they really are the best of us, the best of humanity.

These pictures are from a couple weeks ago.  We went back up to Mount Mitchell, the highest peak east of the Mississippi.  We used to be in the Mitchell area a ton during our college days (Outdoor Ed majors) and I think the last time I was up there was when my husband and I led a 21-day wilderness backpacking course together in our early years of marriage.  Pretty awesome to be back there with kiddos in tow, showing them this beautiful place so special to our hearts + story.  It was actually up on commissary where our story together really began.

Afterward we had a little picnic at a nearby overlook, staying long and soaking in the quiet and the evening light.  I think these will be some of my favorite snapshots from the summer.

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Hanging on

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Last week around this time I was scurrying to pack up for a quick little two day-ish visit to one my long-time best college girlfriend’s house in Tennessee.  To my shame, I haven’t made the trek to visit her in probably 3 or so years, though she has graciously come to visit me or meet up somewhere multiple times since then.  The busyness of these days, the super tight budget that makes a few hours drive a costly luxury–these are the things that have kept me away.  Then one day you realize you hardly talk anymore, and it’s okay because you know you have a long stretch of history to draw from and that you will pick up again where you left off.  Even still, life is whirring by, some of our children are school-aged, and the easy on-a-whim hang outs are becoming harder.  I think as I’ve gotten into these years of parenting a handful of little ones I’ve come to realize how difficult it seems to be to make new friends.  I’m not giving up on it, but the challenge has certainly made me treasure my old friendships more and long to do a better job keeping up with them.  I’m sure it’s the introvert in me, but I’d rather have a few friendships that go deep than to have my arms stretched full wide with a bunch of shallow ones.  Anyway, these days are often lonely and can leave you bewildered wondering who are the friends who are really in the trenches with you?  Who you can call or text and ask for prayer in a moment of weakness, desperation, darkness, or celebration?  Who are the friends who will stand by you when you are at your worst and gently call you back to the truth?  Who are the ones who will be brave and faithful enough to speak words that feel a whole lot like wounds that later prove to be kisses?  These are the friends I want to hold on to.  The ones I want to make space in the budget for.  These are the ones I hope to be roomies with again one day, when we are old widows clinging to rickety walkers, after we’ve buried husbands and kissed great-grandchildren’s newborn skin.  These years with young ones will stretch our friendships to the max, but I hope we can always pick up again and find our way back to each other.  It was a true gift to spend this time with my sweet friend and her three girls.  What a profound wonder to see our little ones all playing together, to share hearts late into the night as we barely hold our eyes open.  She sent me off on Thursday with a travel mug full of fresh hot coffee, and in every way I felt full.  Hang on to your friends, girls.  It’s so worthwhile.