Thursday, August 28, 2008

One Last Summer Fling

Last Saturday, we met my husband's parents, siblings and their children in St. Joseph, Michigan for the day. Whew! A two and a half hour drive up there meant we had to leave on a Saturday morning at 7 am. After getting up early for school this week it was a bit painful, but what a beautiful drive it was. Michigan is so green and beautiful right now and I loved seeing all the vineyards stretching for miles along the way. We also passed several little roadside stands selling fresh fruit and vegetables really making me want to stop...I hoped we would on the way home.

We arrived in St. Joseph and our first stop was The Curious Kids Museum. It was perfect for the ages of our kids and they went from one thing to the next. This was Kaiya's very favorite spot...we had to go back to it again right before leaving. She's such a water girl.
Curt and Kevin seemed to spend a lot of time here at the remote control trucks and I kept hearing Easton and Caedmon say "Can I try, can I try it?"...yeah this was a kid's museum right?
This was Caedmon's favorite spot...the Pirate Ship.
And here's another example of Kevin joining in on the fun at the "children's museum":)...swabbing the poop deck. I may act embarrassed at the time, but I am so glad that my husband jumps right in and plays with the kids like he does. They love it and so do I!

This was one of my favorites...the human size bubble maker. Sarah and I just had to try it too...too bad I didn't get a picture.Grandma giving Kaiya a lesson on tooth cleanlinessAfter the museum, we drove to the beach for a picnic. It was such a beautiful day with a nice breeze.

After lunch we changed and spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing at the beach. The kids played and played and played and played. My daughter and son are opposite when it comes to feeling comfortable in water. Caedmon uses extra caution around water...not wanting to go too deep and like me, doesn't like to get The Hair wet. :) My daughter, on the other hand, would have drowned within two minutes of us being there if no one would have been watching her every move. I think my favorite part of the day was watching Grandma & Grandpa enjoy their grand kids. Before heading for home we all ate supper at Clementine's with sun-kissed faces and a big appetite. I also got to stop at one of those little roadside stands and picked up some peaches & corn on the cob. It was a yummy day indeed! :)

Thanks to my cousin Heather for helping me can the peaches on Monday! It sure was a treat to have you and your sweet kiddos here for the afternoon. Thanks again for your help and for encouraging me to get them done! Loved having you here!
Here's a quote from Caedmon recently while riding in the van...

Caedmon: "Mom, does God take care of me?"

Me: "Yes"

Caedmon: "Does He take care of Kaiya?"

Me: "Yes honey, He takes care of all the children in the world"

Caedmon: "He's going to rip!"

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

First Day of School

Today was Caedmon's very first day of school. I took him yesterday afternoon to drop off his supplies and to see his classroom.
He woke up around 6:30 am on his own and came out of his room dressed and ready to go. How did my little boy grow up overnight? Our morning went well and we made it to his class on time. A kiss goodbye and out the door I went wanting so badly to turn back around to make sure he was OK. As I pulled out the drive of his school, the tears started flowing. My sister warned me about this just yesterday.

Then on the way to run an errand this song came on the radio and the tears came once again.
It's my prayer for Caedmon.

Find Your Wings
lyrics by Mark Harris

It’s only for a moment you were mine to hold.
The plans that heaven has for you will all too soon unfold.
So many different prayers I’ll pray for all that you might do.
But most of all I want to know that you’re walking in the truth.
And if I never told you I want you to know
That as I watch you grow…
I pray that God would fill your heart with dreams
And that faith gives you the courage to dare to do great things.
I’m here for you whatever this life brings
So let my love give you roots
And help you find your wings

May passion be the wind that leads you through your days
And may conviction keep you strong and guide you on your way
May there be many moments that make your life so sweet.
Oh but more than memories…. I pray that God would fill your heart with dreams
And that faith gives you the courage to dare to do great things.
I’m here for you whatever this life brings
So let my love give you roots
And help you find your wings

It’s not living if you don’t reach for the sky.
I’ll have tears as you take off…. But I’ll cheer as you fly….
I pray that God would fill your heart with dreams
And that faith gives you the courage to dare to do great things.
I’m here for you whatever this life brings
So let my love give you roots
And help you find your wings.

I love you, Son!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Fireproofing Our Marriage

Upon leaving the Biltmore Estate, we drove to the Ridgecrest Conference Center on Friday evening and spent the rest of our time participating in the Marriage Impact Retreat. Since we have been married, we've attended only one other marriage conference. It's a great opportunity to refresh, reconnect and draw closer to each other and to the Lord. Although we really enjoyed the first retreat we attended several years ago, this one was a lot different. In addition to listening to a speaker, this event was designed to give couples plenty of time to enjoy being together participating in outdoor adventures. On Friday evening everyone met together for a nice banquet to get to know one another. After that, we had Praise & Worship followed by a speaker. He chose the topic "Fireproof Your Marriage" as a spinoff of the movie "Fireproof" coming to theaters on September 26th. Here's the trailer.

As we watched this trailer, I noticed the young couple sitting diagonally from us. The wife was sobbing and we found out they had only been married for eight months. I don't know what their situation was, but I said a prayer for them and asked God to meet them at this retreat. Neither of us had heard of the movie until the night before the conference when we saw the preview before the movie we were watching. This movie is promoting marriage which seems to be under fire these days. I just found out this week about another divorce taking place and am heartbroken because of it. God can help any situation and He cares deeply about the marriage covenant. The fact is that none of us has a perfect marriage. We all fight, hurt each other and go through difficut seasons along the way. If Christ can forgive us and lay down his life for us, how can we not forgive each other?
The speaker was excellent and such an encouragement. We were both challenged. After the first session on Friday evening, we had a campfire with everyone else attending the conference and made s'mores. I took the opportunity to talk with the speaker's wife for quite awhile and really enjoyed the conversation around the campfire. On Saturday morning after breakfast we had another hour long session of listening to our speaker. We played icebreaker games before each session and Kevin and I won this prize during the Saturday morning session. Woohoo!! This session concluded at 9 am and we then headed to our first adventure session. We could choose from a variety of options...whitewater rafting, rock wall climbing, horseback riding and so on. We chose to drive to Grandfather Mountain. We drove to the top and were awed by the breathtaking views that we saw. I was amazed over and over that day and so grateful for the chance to be right there at that moment.
I sometimes feel like some people (including myself) have lost their amazement and excitement over God's creation and His blessings...even the simple things. I really tried to absorb the moment. At the top of this mountain was the mile high swinging bridge. I wasn't so excited to cross this bridge (as you can see by the expression on my face), but did it anyway. Kevin wanted me to slow down and look around a little, but I was walking as quickly as I could over to the other side...solid ground. I could enjoy the view much better from there. :)
We decided to do a little hiking, but had to hurry because we were on a time crunch to get back to Ridgecrest for our high ropes course adventure by 1:30 pm. It was a beautiful hike up the mountain and quite a workout. There were signs posted that bears had been seen in the area recently so I was a little nervous about that and it didn't help that my husband kept growling behind me as we walked! It was hard to turn around and go back to our car, but we had to so we would be back in time for the ropes course. We literally ran down the mountain and made it back with only a few minutes to spare. That was one definite difference I noticed without kids...we could keep a tighter schedule which was nice for a change.
Here I am all ready for Adventure Session #2...the High Ropes Course. Kevin has done something similar to this in the past, but this was a first for me. It was a game of risk-taking, encouragement and trust between the couples. As I was up there, I seriously got scared and didn't know if I could do it, but hearing Kevin's voice encouraging me and coaching me through it really helped...and I made it!
I was pretty freaked out at this point...praying a lot. :) As I was nearing the end, we heard thunder in the distance and the rule is that nobody can be on the course when it thunders. I got to finish with this final swing (see video below), but we had to wait fifteen minutes before Kevin could go.

It took everything in me to jump off that platform...but it sure was fun.

Of course Kevin flew through the course at record speed.

We were supposed to do a zip line too, but the thunder continued and we had to stop the course. I was glad we were both able to get through the ropes course.
After that we had another hour long session, and then on Saturday evening we were on our own for a Date Night. I chose to go to Carraba's since it is a favorite and we don't have one in our area. Perfect choice...I've never tasted food as good as's like having a party in your mouth...seriously. After dinner, we drove around downtown Asheville then headed back to our room for some R&R. :)

Sunday morning was another sesssion then we packed our things and headed North once again. It was hard to leave this beautiful part of the country. We met some great people and really had a wonderful time. We did miss the kids at this point and were anxious to get back and squeeze them again. Here's a picture with the wonderful speakers before leaving on Sunday.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

North Carolina Getaway

Thank you all for your prayers for my cousin Cameron. My Aunt said that the Holy Spirit was present in the courtroom that day. The courtroom was packed and there were very few people present with dry eyes. I wish I could have been there too. Cameron is surrounded by a lot of support and love and God continues to be faithful. Here is a link to the newspaper article about the trial and his sentencing.

Here we are just across the North Carolina border on Thursday afternoon. We're here until Sunday and are having an amazing time. Did I mention it's just the two of us? I do miss the kids, in fact I was crying after dropping them off with my mom...but man is it nice to focus on each other for a few days and not worry about taking anyone potty or wiping any mouths.

That evening we ate at a local seafood restaurant across from our hotel. As we were being escorted to our table the smell of WESSON filled the air and I noticed everyones plate that we passed was overflowing with deep fried seafood. My plate came out covered with whole deep fried catfish (with tails) over a bed of deep fried hush puppies...not a big fan of fried food, but it wasn't bad. Catching a movie after dinner

On Friday we went to the Biltmore Estate...America's Largest Home. This was definitely a highlight of the trip for me. We spent the whole day there exploring the house, garden's and winery. It's hard to describe the beauty and vastness of this place...just breathtaking. The 250- room home was built in 1894 for George Vanderbilt and felt like a castle. It was overwhelming to imagine the lifestyle of the family that lived there. When guests visited they each had their own personal butler or maid to attend to them. The home has an indoor bowling alley and swimming pool and the fourth story housed the many servants that waited on the owners and their guests. We toured the house and grounds and were only allowed to take pictures outside the house. Lunch at the outdoor cafe' next to the house.

The beauty and vastness of the gardens is impossible to catch on camera. I kept finding myself just saying "wow" the whole day.
...a quick kiss behind the rose bushes
There were so many little paths and trails and out of nowhere you'd come up on tons of little hidden unique spots while walking.
After exploring the grounds, house & gardens, we toured and sampled at the winery located on the Biltmore grounds.

Such a fun and memorable day!