Time flies when you're...well, whatever, time just flies. Here we are in mid-January and I thought it might be a good time to finish up posting some of our favorites from October, November and December. So I can start stressing about keeping up on 2018 posts, of course. ;)
It took us 18 months to find a weekend that would work, but we made it to New Orleans.
Well worth the wait!
But for now, it's July on the blog. Of course, it hit 96 degrees in Texas this week, so maybe it's not such a mental stretch.
The first stop on our trip back in time is to Puerto Rico. The kids were either at camp or the farm (having the time of their lives and not missing us a bit) and we took off to use up some hotel points and escape responsibility for a couple of days.
Although we spent just a short time in Puerto Rico, we fell in love with it.
“Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all of one’s lifetime.” – Mark Twain
As we watch the weather news, with Hurricane Maria set on the same path as HurricanesHarvey and Irma which passed over Puerto Rico a few short weeks ago, we picture the places we visited and the people we met, enduring yet another catastrophic storm. Our hearts go out to them and we are reminded of the power of travel and understanding people and places that are unfamiliar to your own.
For those of you who follow me on Facebook, you'll know that we have been matching donations made to JDRF with donations for hurricane relief organizations.
We look forward to doing even more.
July 4 is always cause for celebration, but this year set the bar awfully high! The matriarch of my father's family turned 90 fabulous years old on Independence Day and we all high-tailed it to Fort Wayne to celebrate in person with the birthday girl herself.
She goes by many names--Mom, Grandma, Granny, Ella Lue--but is loved equally and deeply by everyone who is blessed to know her.
With all of our extended family in town, we did our best to get together a few times over the holiday weekend. Saturday night, everyone came by the house Rocket rented downtown so that all of the Texas crew could be together. It was wonderful to catch up with cousins, aunts and uncles and meet many little ones who joined the family since the last time we all saw each other!
Sunday, we headed to the greatest zoo in the U.S.A.
Monday! Party day!
Happy 90th Birthday Granny Lue! We love you!
We're all about adding family traditions -- especially if they involve getting to spend some down time with our most favorite people. We're already starting a countdown to next June.
What is happily turning into a long-time tradition (we won't talk about how long, exactly), a group of us ladies like to gather in Texas for a little girl-time. This was back in June, but I can't bring myself to skip ahead to August.
Who wants to pretend it's the beginning of summer again?
On the final day of our trip, we explored a bit more of Bath, including Bath's Abbey and the Roman Baths, then headed back to London for our flight home the next day with a quick stop along the way.
Day Seven: Bath Abbey, Roman Baths and Avebury
A few final iPhone memories are all that's left! Our luggage may have taken a week to find us at home, but I suppose the universe has to balance things out somehow.
Day Five: Charlestown, Mousehole, Bottalack's Tin Mines and St. Ives
Day Six: Tintagel Castle and Wells Cathedral
If you missed Part One, you can find it here.
Where I left off, we were in Wareham for the night. The following morning, we hit the road bright and early.
Day Three: Durdle Door and Dartmoor National Park
Day Four: St. Michael's Mount, The Minack Theater and Another Village or Two I Can't Name
That's it for days three and four! With a few more iPhone shots, I'll close out this post and get started on the next.
This trip was an amazing trip. Inspired by the Poldark books, authored by Winston Graham, and the 1975 BBC mini-series that followed, Mom has been talking about seeing Cornwall, England for as long as Molly and I can remember. The books are currently being filmed again as a miniseries on PBS (Season 3 coming soon to the U.S. and now airing in the U.K.) If you're a fan, you might recognize some of the places we visited later in the trip.
Due to a little Vacation Research Scope Creep, we ended up seeing much more than just Cornwall, packing a heck of a lot into eight days. This first post covers days one and two...so maybe there will be four parts in all? Can you stand the suspense?
Rather than try to remember all that we learned and surely get something (eh, most things) wrong along the way, I'll link to all of the historical site websites throughout each post for anyone interested in knowing more.
Thank you, Mom, for dreaming up this adventure and bringing me and Molly along for the ride. xoxo
DAY ONE: DFW>LGW, Westminster Abbey, The River Thames and the Tower of London
DAY TWO: Stonehenge, Salisbury Cathedral, Old Wardour Castle and Wareham
With a few goofy iPhone photos from days one and two, I'm going to call it quits on Part One.
While I've clearly given up on monthly posts -- and laugh at myself remembering I used to manage weekly ones -- I'm fully committed to seasonal posts. And hey, this is number two for Spring alone! I'm winning.
With April showers and all of that, we have enjoyed a couple of nice, lazy days so far this spring.
It would appear that the end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017 have swallowed me whole. It's partially true.
BUT! While not posting, I have been taking pictures.
And a touch of March.
This first photo pretty much captures how our Thanksgiving trip to meet family at the beach started out. With joy for the days to come and the time spent with those we don't get to see nearly enough.
While laid over in Atlanta, some of our very favorite people made the trek in to meet us for lunch. Here the kids are meeting their new 'cousin Will' for the first time -- I loved how Henry had to take a photo, too.
It was dinnertime when we finally rolled into the beach house and we all made a bee-line to love on sweet baby Jennifer. One of the biggest surprises of the week? Discovering Michael is nearly as much of a baby-hog as Ella.
The temperature stayed in the 60s on Sunday and Monday so we made the kids wait to head out to the beach while it warmed up a little and we could enjoy a leisurely start to the day. This resulted in a dead-run to the shore when they were finally released from the house. Which was a nice change from the two hours of whining that preceded heading outside.
Venice Beach was full of interesting finds. A month before we arrived, there was a red tide, the remnants of which littered parts of the beach. Shells were abundant and apparently the beach is also known for sharks' teeth but we didn't luck out with finding any of those.
What do good parents do to entertain their kids on the beach without sand toys? Trick them into thinking the find-mama's-toes-in-the-sand game is awesome.
What do *great* parents do to entertain their kids on the beach without sand toys? That now-empty Miller Lite can isn't just for the recycle bin, folks.
We should have known that things were going too smoothly by Sunday night. Our flights ran on time, we got a deal on upgrading our rental car, the cousins were all getting along, there was no rain in the forecast.
For all of this, we were punished with a stomach virus that hit Henry first and kept us up most of the night. Poor kiddo was feeling a bit better in the morning and so I carried him out to sit and chill on the beach. (Yes, those are his jammie pants and maybe the second or third shirt I had changed for him since 1 a.m.)
Thankfully, everyone else was still feeling well and I was making use of Lysol wipes on every possible surface of the beach house on a regular rotation.
Jennifer's first time out on the beach was a hit.
Joshua proved to be much smarter than our kiddos (not that we were surprised). He explored the beach thoroughly over the week, but wisely chose to steer clear of the very chilly ocean water.
Monday evening, the bug took down Michael...then Ella. Tuesday morning, Wes got hit. It was another sleepless night but, gratefully, it seemed to be a fast-moving bug and only Henry was still trying to fully recover by Tuesday night.
Given the amount of clean-up and snuggling duty I took on for a couple of days, it's a wonder I didn't also get sick. I did try a new trick -- can't say that it's what kept me healthy, but I'll share it in case anyone else wants to give it a try at warding off GI sickness. Three times a day, I drank a full glass of 100% grape juice with a generous splash of unfiltered apple cider vinegar. I chose Bragg's ACV that includes the Mother in the vinegar.
Most of all, we are grateful that neither Joshua -- who has been recovering from a nasty bout with strep and has a weakened immune system -- and Jennifer stayed well. PHEW.
Lysol wipes and quarantining strategies for the win!
Wednesday night, we started preparations for our Thanksgiving dinner. Wes began to brine the turkey and us ladies got the apple pie underway.
With an early wake-up call to get to the airport on Friday morning, we made the most of our Thanksgiving day on the beach. It was absolutely beautiful and very peaceful with hardly anyone else around.
I felt a deep thankfulness that day that went beyond my normal sense of daily gratitude. Life is truly good and we get to share it with the most incredible people. We will seek to pay forward as much kindness and giving as we can this Christmas season and I look forward to all of the traditions we've begun to build as a family over the years.
Thursday morning, the bird spent a little time smoking on the grill, then got an herb butter bath and headed to the oven. It was quite tasty, under Wes' careful supervision.
As for me, it was my first time trying my mom's dressing recipe, and it turns out that I needed to pay a lot closer attention to her cooking skills. Oh well, the mashed potatoes were edible. I think.
I'm playing a bit of catch-up on the blog today, getting ready for our Thanksgiving week trip to the beach. I have a funny feeling I'm going to come home with one or two shots from vacation...maybe three.
According to the calendar, but maybe not the mid-80 temps we have forecasted all week, it's finally here. Time to start thinking about Christmas lists, chili nights, and chilly nights.
If we think it, it will come, I'm telling myself...For now, we are happily not sweating into puddles at the soccer fields each weekend.
On the same day as Michael's birthday, we were blessed with a new addition to our family!
Welcome to the world, baby Jennifer. May I never forget to send your birthday gift on time with such a wonderful way to remember your special day.
But first! Proof that we've gotten to go to one soccer game since June. We're still hopeful Ella will get to play in 2016. Things are looking promising for Tuesday night.
Now, the road to the lake.
We rounded out the summer digging in the dirt, enjoying a visit from Gigi and Poppa, seeking A/C wherever possible, and finally sending off three kiddos to the elementary school down the street. Kind of wished we hadn't blinked so much.