Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Lucky 13th Anniversary!

Wow, 13 years have gone by since we've been married!  This is going to be a "lucky" year of marriage!  I guess technically we are starting our 14th year, so looking back, number 13 was a good one!

We don't always go on a trip for our anniversary, but I think we will make it a yearly tradition.  This year we decided to stay somewhat close to home.  After talking about several choices, Lee came up with a great plan! I have been reading lots of Beverly Lewis' books about the Amish and I am very intrigued with their way of life.  Lee suggested we visit Lancaster County, Pennsylvania AND rent a sports car for the trip.  Kind of a funny combo, visiting Amish country in a BMW, but it was really fun.

My sister Lois lives just about an hour from Lancaster area, so it worked great for dropping off our kids at her house for the weekend.  We stayed at a bed and breakfast in Bird-in-Hand.  I spent too much time looking for a place to stay (HOURS looking on line) and should have booked something months ago.  But in the end, we were pleased with the place I finally decided on.
Sept 19 2015 Anniversary Trip, Bird-in-Hand PA (3)

I thought there was going to be a hot breakfast for guests, cooked from scratch.  Apparently I didn't get the information right.  There was a hot breakfast, but more of a help-yourself breakfast buffet.  Saturday morning there were yummy omelets and sausages, so that helped make up for the misunderstanding.  Sunday morning breakfast I wasn't too thrilled about, but there was still food so can't complain!
Sept 19 2015 Anniversary Trip, Bird-in-Hand PA

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The bed and breakfast we stayed at is associated with a hotel and inn just down the street.  We were able to use the facilities at the inn and played tennis that morning, which was really fun.  We need to go do that more often!

It was so fun hearing horses clop by outside our room.  Thought of my sister when I saw this shop.
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Here is the car we rented.  It was really fun driving it!
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After tennis and getting ready for the day we walked down the street to Abe's Buggy Rides. Our driver, Paul, is an old order Mennonite.  I didn't know this but the Amish actually broke off from the Mennonites.  As old order Amish Paul did things like drive a buggy (not a vehicle), but did have electricity at his home.  He and his family, like the Amish, don't believe in taking pictures of themselves.  So I asked him if he was allowed to take pictures for people.  He said yes and took this one of us.
Sept 19 2015 Bird-in-Hand PA (5)

Notice the horses hooked up to the plow?
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Paul took us on about an hour buggy ride.  He pointed out Amish homes to us and we chatted about each others families a little and I asked about the Amish and Mennonites too. It's kind of hard to tell, but see the window on the yellow house, the upper far left?  Near the tree with dark green leaves?  Can you tell that there is a hunter green shade pulled halfway down the window?  Paul said the Amish have them in all the windows on their houses.  It wasn't for anything religious, just something they do. 
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I loved seeing these scooters all over.  We really wanted to buy one, but they are somewhat expensive.
Sept 19 2015 Bird-in-Hand PA (3)

Paul stopped at an Amish house for us.  We went into the basement at that house and could buy stuff.  We bought Shanna and Haley a tiny little purse that had a toy horse in it. Nothing that I couldn't make myself, but it was fun buying it from an authentic Amish family.  Yeah, weird I know! We stopped at an Amish hardware store in Bird-in-Hand and they sold these scooters there.  They were about $170!  Can't remember exactly, but expensive.  It still would be fun to get them someday!  While on the buggy ride we saw a girl go by with her little baby brother sitting in the basket!
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Some of the houses Paul pointed out were newer and nicer than our house! On the outside anyway.  I was really surprised that they were Amish.  For some reason we started talking about the Amish and home mortgages (I brought it up of course, ha ha) and I said something about how they are self-sufficient and must not have loans or anything.  Paul told me that they do get home loans.  He mentioned a particular bank or credit union that works with the Amish and said that bank was doing very well.  It really surprised me that the Amish had loans!  Not sure why, but it did.  Oh, I also mentioned to Paul how neat it is that they are "off the grid" as they go on living life with out needing the utility company.  He had never heard the term "off the grid" before.  The buggy ride was one of our favorite parts that weekend.  If it would have been cheaper we might have gone on two!

For lunch we asked an Amish young man if we could eat at an "authentic" Amish restaurant. He told us where one was.  Katie's Kitchen.  It was so good!
Sept 19 2015 Bird-in-Hand PA (11)

They had regular food and Amish food.  Lee and I each ordered "authentic" Amish dishes, which are basically comfort foods. Okay, french fries are NOT Amish, but I love them sooo much and we were on vacation.  Had to have fries!  The mashed potatoes and gravy was divine!
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Yep, I was one of those gawking Englischers! I was respectful though and didn't take a picture of peoples' faces.  But I snapped a picture of one of the Amish girls working at Katie's Kitchen. So, they had the best dessert menu I've EVER seen.  Usually a restaurant has three or four dessert items...not very many.  Katie's had TONS.  We ordered four things so we could share them all and try several.  YUM!!!
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Later that afternoon we visited different Amish shops.  We enjoyed the ice cream at this place.
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And it was fun seeing interesting bottled watermelon rind and cantaloupe....
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Stopped by a fabric store too.
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I thought these aprons were cute.  I like finding inspiration for cute things to make for my kids, or more specifically my girls.  Execution on the other hand is a different story.
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We also drove around Lancaster a little, and Strasburg.  This was quite the prison in Lancaster! In Strasburg we walked around a visited a little shop too.
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Definitely un-Amish, we ate at a 50's diner that night.  The burgers were awesome! More fries, please!
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Sunday we went to church at the Ephrata Ward.  It was very interesting because that same Sunday Lee was being sustained to be the 2nd counselor in our Bishopric. (Yes we missed it because we were in Lancaster!)  Well, in the Ephrata Ward the 2nd counselor was being released.  He had a chance to briefly talk about his experience as a 2nd counselor and share his testimony.  It was a sweet experience to be there, knowing that Lee would soon be experience this calling the fellow was just released from.

I took some pictures of our room.  I thought it was a pretty room.  They could update the bed as I didn't think it was that comfortable, but thankfully I am young I recovered just fine from a sore back in the morning.
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After church we drove around some more to find covered bridges in the area.  We found one.  Unfortunately there wasn't a place to walk around so we drove through it twice, and the neighboring neighborhood. 
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Some youth out on an afternoon ride....or something!
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We then headed back to Lois' to get the kids.  We took Lois's family on two separate drives in the car just for fun, and then brought the car back to the owner.  Our kids took turns riding in it too. 
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Thanks Lee for the great suggestions for the anniversary!  We both had a terrific time.  I love that my husband will watch things like Jane Austen movies, Hallmark shows and go to places like Amish country for our anniversary!  Looking forward to next year's trip!  Someday we'll head out on a cruise.......

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Last Summer Days...

I like to relish in the fact that summer does not end till late September.  The first day of fall wasn't until September 23rd.  I like knowing that we'll still have nice-ish/warm days past August. I much rather be hot than cold any day, thus another reason I love summer so much!

Close to the middle of September we participated in our Stake's Day of service at a local Mennonite church.  Lee worked that day, but the rest of us were at the activity.  The Mennonite church put in a walking path.  We helped level out the gravel they put down on the path.
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The kids played too....sometimes in places I didn't agree with!
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That night Lee and I went out for dessert at a BBQ restaurant, of all places! We talked about some future financial plans...which some have now since changed, ha ha.
Sept 12 2015 Stake Day of Service (7)

My sister Stephanie came for a visit that weekend.  We loved having her family here!  They are temporarily out East for Andy's new job.  Sadly they will move again in March to Indiana.  My kids sure love having Maggie around.
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That weekend Cal made this awesome sign for Lego.  Isn't it awesome?! He told me this morning (this post is back-dated, so he really said this in October) that he decided he wants to be an architect.  That sounds great Cal!
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Stephanie was so great and did lots of fun things with the girls, like coloring and playing Fancy Nancy games.
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Ms. Maggie!
Sept 13 2015

We had homemade caramel and apples for treat Sunday night.  This particular apple was off of our very own tree!  The tree produced about 10 or so apples this year, with us harvesting nine.  YUM!
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Tuesday the following week I headed up to the DC area to help Steph and Andy move in.  I cleaned for a little bit, then helped Andy unload the POD.  We unloaded it super fast! 
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Just like that it's empty!  I should have taken a picture of it full.  I helped Andy bring in all the furniture too.  I guess I am bragging, huh!
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Later that same week we took a bike ride to DQ.  The kids still had free ice cream cone coupons from the library summer reading program.  They expired the end of September, so we needed to use them!  Every year I sign up Lois' kids for the reading program too (my librarian doesn't mind).  Her kids of course received coupons too.  Sadly they weren't going to be done anytime soon to redeem them, so we helped out.  Though it would have been more fun eating ice cream with you Lois!
Sept 17 2015 DQ (2)

Sept 17 2015 DQ

Ahh...summer.  Thankfully it's been a nice fall for the most part!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Labor Day Weekend

We had a great Labor Day weekend.  Growing up my dad always joked that it was Labor Day so we should labor....and we did.  There was some sort of project going on that we would work on together.  We did do much laboring except doing a lot of driving! 

I thought this was a fun outfit Shanna put together.
Sept 4 2015

Friday night we drove up to Darrell's (my brother in Pennsylvania).  We didn't get there till midnight or something.  We slept for a few hours and a little after 3:30 Lee and I, and Lois and Jeff took off to do a session in the Manhattan Temple.  I've wanted to go there and now I have!  We didn't park in the greatest place--it was safe and all--but it wasn't super close to the temple.  We did enjoy walking around NYC in the wee hours of the morning.  The bike rack was on the back of our van which made for an extra $15 charge for parking.  Ugh....
Sept 5 2015

We arrived back at Darrell's around 10:30 ish.  Not bad for a run to the Big Apple! The kids had lots of fun in their pool.
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Diving-through-a-floatie was very popular!
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Sept 5 2015 Labor Day

Lois and I enjoyed dressing alike for church on Sunday.  We get a kick out of it, and out of other people's reactions. Nope, we're not twins.
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Clark and Joseph enjoy hanging out with each other.  Both of them are good kids.  Future missionaries!
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Sunday afternoon we went for a walk at a nearby nature center. Rhett has not lost his popularity!
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Love it when cousins are best friends.
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Cal is getting pretty good at skipping rocks.  I took several movies of Lee through rocks about the size of his hand or larger, and he was able to skip them! 
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Monday morning we did a hike which started near a covered bridge.  Lee went on a bike ride that morning and met up with us.
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Sept 7 2015 Labor Day

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More best friends!  Eric, Cal, Reed.
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When the hike was done Lee and I stopped at the delicious Halo Farm to buy some creamy, yummy milk!

Back at the house: even Lee and I got in the pool.  Lee probably more than me.
Sept 7 2015 Labor Day (5)

That evening Darrell grilled burgers for dinner.  They have such a fun back yard with the pool and big back deck.  Tuesday morning we dragged out feet getting everyone off to school and such.  I really started up with the Race for Education too.  The fundraiser was like having a part-time job almost!Yet again, we had a terrific time at Darrell's.  Thanks Stacie and Darrell for hosting us!  It was great that Lois and her family could come too.  Always a good time up in PA.  I'm glad I have family fairly close to me!  It enriches life even more to be with family and spend time with them regularly.

Love the bulletin board the 2nd grade teachers did for the first of the school year.  Such a fun, happy board!
Sept 11 2015

Nothing do to with Labor Day, but for a brief few days, Lee and I contemplated buying a building downtown here.  The price was pretty good, but as you can tell it needed lots of gutting and fixing up...
Sept 12 2015 (2)

Nice bathroom, right?!  Well, about a week after we really thought about buying the building, Lee found out it was under contract.  So, that is off the table.  Someday we'd like Lee to own his own building. 
Sept 12 2015

Hope you had a great Labor Day!  And if you labored, hope you enjoyed some fun recreation time too!