away together at the lake

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Last weekend, the very last days of summer, we drove a couple hours away from home to Lake Santeetlah.  A very kind client of my Brandon’s had gifted us a weekend at this lake house and we truly had the best time.  My favorite childhood memories are from summers spent on the Muskoka lakes in Ontario, Canada with family.  There will always be a fondness in my heart for lakes!  We realized we hadn’t been away together alone as a family (without other family or friends) for years.  It was so good, just so good. We hadn’t told the kids ahead of time what was happening so they were totally surprised.  They enjoyed an upstairs bedroom with bunkbeds (!!!) and they loved having their “own” little porch balcony overlooking the lake.  Our stay was just so short, but so very good.  Lots of swimming, exploring, fishing, paddling, and enjoying was had by all in a beautiful area that was new to us and not so far from home.  I hope one day we can return, the children are already planning our next trip!

family time away

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A couple of weeks ago we took a few days to visit Brandon’s parents in North Myrtle Beach.  It was really our only family getaway for the year, and I was especially grateful for some time to be all together, for the kids to have some extended time with their daddy and for us all to have a chance to change pace and relax.  Brandon’s parents are so kind and generous to host a family of five (with some challenging dietary needs, as well), and we are thankful to them!

As you can see, we soaked up the beach most of the time we were there.  Both B and I feel a bit like we’re coming home when we spend time at the ocean.  We will alway love living in the mountains, but need regular doses of the sunny warm ocean, too.  We love a little bit of wilderness, wherever we can find it.  It was especially fun to watch Philippa on this trip, as it was her first real experience with it all, and she was so enamored.  Fearless, too.  She loved jumping in the waves and digging in the sand.  Until she didn’t, and then she just “wanted to go home.”  🙂  Mostly, she loved it. We enjoyed exploring the tidal pools and hunting for treasures, finding lots of crabs, seeing little fish, and the usual sea shells.  Phoebe discovered the joy of riding waves on the boogie board, and she spent lots of time with daddy catching waves.  She very rarely stops moving, that one.  Noah enjoyed watching the boats from the marina.  Unfortunately all of the kids were battling a bad head cold, so there was more fussiness than usual, but we all still had fun.  B’s parents treated us to a trip to the aquarium and also took the kids out for put-put one night while B and I had a dinner date.  It was a fun five days away, but it’s always wonderful to come back home again.

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.)

 

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.

summer getaway

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We’re heading out of town so the blog will be quiet for a week or so, most likely!  We have a long drive ahead of us and a week by a quiet lake to look forward to, gathered close with family.  I’m looking forward to laughter, snuggles, sleeping a little later, having uninterrupted time with Brandon, reading, knitting, journaling, and reconnecting with loved ones!  Share all about it with you guys soon. ❤  Until then, happy summering in your corner of the world.

away together

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So, we spent the very last week of September as a family at one of our favorite getaway spots: Isle of Palms, SC.  This place was where Brandon and I honeymooned over nine years ago, and we come back to it whenever we can because there’s something about the power of place.  Do you know what I mean?  There’s something about certain places that help us remember who we are, what we love, why we are alive.  There are certain places that call us back to ourselves when we’ve lost our way, that call us back to the Lord when we’ve trailed off.  You see this all over the pages of Scripture, the importance of the Promised Land as the place connected with the Israelites identity as a people.  You see it in the way God had the Israelites set up monuments and stones of remembrance as they traveled through the wilderness so that when they visited these places, it would trigger for them memories and milestones in their walk with God.

What are your places?  Places that for others are ordinary, but for you are profound, like balm for your soul amnesia?  I think for our marriage, Isle of Palms will always be a simple but powerful place for us.  It’s nothing special, really.  It’s quiet, home to only a couple of hotels, boasting a tiny strip of shops and restaurants, and a destination spot for more surfers and paddle boarders than big loud vacationers.  Which is precisely why we love it.  It has a quieter and simpler and smaller feel, and we’d rather see bare coast line and wildlife than a cluster of resorts or attractions any day. Plus its only a four hour drive from our home in the mountains of North Carolina.

This time was special because it was our first chunk of time off together as a family in two years (and Brandon’s first week off in two years, except for the week he took when Philippa was born, which you all know is no vacation).  Also, it was Philippa’s first introduction to the ocean!  She absolutely loved it, crawling straight into the waves, fearless.

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We also got to spend a couple of days with family, some time biking over to Sullivan’s Island and back, watching sunrises and sunsets, reading + painting alone on the beach, fishing, visiting our usual spots in Charleston, watching dolphins, running through the rain to Ted’s Butcherblock for lunch, staying up late to see the Super Blood Moon + capturing it (though fuzzy) on camera, experiencing the highest tides of the year on the island combined with the heavy rains from Hurricane Joaquin.  We stayed in a little yellow house and had to leave a day or so early because of the heavy rains + flooding.  We realized on this trip that it’s really not easy to go the beach with three children ages 4 and under and have the kind of relaxing vacation we were imagining.  The sooner we adjusted our expectations and communicated really clearly with each other what we needed to have happen to feel rested + refreshed, we enjoyed our time more.  The reality is, this season is busy and a ton of work, no matter where you are (maybe even more work when you’re not at home).  But it is still good and important for us to get away to a place that reminds us of the early days when we were brand new and so in love.  Somehow it always makes us fall in love all over again.  It’s a fight sometimes to really r e s t, but such a thing worth fighting for.

So now, I feel I can officially say goodbye to summer + hello to the glory of fall in these beautiful mountains we call home!  Yay!