Friday, April 11, 2014

A Seacoast Getaway (aka Picture-Heavy-Post!)

Back on March 24-25, Jim and I had the opportunity to do something we'd been dreaming about for a long time . . . we got away together for the first time in over 10 years.  Yes . . . TEN YEARS . . . before kids!!!  In the 4 years we were married before Sam came along, we used to get away for our anniversary, or sometimes just another random time, at least once a year.  But the last time was back in 2003, when I was newly pregnant with Sam.  In fact, I bought my first piece of maternity clothing, and a baby name book, on that trip!  Talk about memories . . . :)  (And because we had just found out I was pregnant about a week before this March getaway, talk about deja vu!!)

Anyway, last fall we had bought tickets to see The Piano Guys in concert in Portsmouth NH, on March 24.  At first we figured we'd just make it a date--it would be a very late night, since it's a couple hours away from us, but doable.  Then we started thinking, what if we could make it a getaway?  We ran the idea by my parents, who said they'd be willing to watch the kids for a night . . . then we started looking into places to stay in the area.  Jim decided if we were going to make it a getaway, we should find someplace more romantic than a Motel 6. ;)  Long story short, we decided way ahead of time that this would be our somewhat-early 15th anniversary celebration.  We were able to book a room with an ocean view at the York Harbor Inn in York, Maine, and we even got a pretty good discount with their March specials!  So, mid-afternoon on the 24th, we set off on our big adventure.

This was our pretty little room at the inn.  We were in the main building (they have quite a few different ones) and we even had a deck with an ocean view.  Of course, it was a little chilly to spend much time out there, but it was still neat, and we did go out for a little while the next morning.
 Sitting area
 And . . . oh joy! . . . we had an electric fireplace.  It kept the room nice and toasty, not to mention the romantic ambiance. :)
 Looking out the door to our deck, and beyond
 After getting our stuff settled in our room, we relaxed for a few minutes and then headed back down to Portsmouth.  We had plans to meet up with friends for dinner at Texas Roadhouse, at 5 pm.  We ended up missing our exit and getting a bit lost/detoured on the way, but thankfully we still made it with about 10 minutes to spare.  We so enjoyed our visit with them and our yummy dinner--it was nice to catch up a bit after about 2 1/2 years since the last time we got together!  (I apologize for the quality of these next photos--all were taken with my iPod because we didn't feel like hauling the big camera along with us.)
 Our next destination was the Music Hall in downtown Portsmouth.  Having never actually been into the city before, we depended on our trusty directions printed from Google maps. :)  Thankfully we had no trouble finding the area where we needed to be . . . finding parking was another matter!  After driving around in a circle about 3 times, looking for a space on the street, Jim gave in and parked in the nearby parking garage. :)  By then it was about 15 minutes till showtime, so we power-walked a few streets over to the Music Hall.  Once we found our seats, we could finally catch our breath and enjoyed taking in the historic building, and watching all the other people filling up the hall.
 We have enjoyed watching The Piano Guys' Youtube videos for a long time, and were really excited to be able to see them in person.  
 The Music Hall ceiling
 Two happy people . . .  enjoying being just "Jim & Carrie" for a while instead of "Mommy & Daddy" :)
 Another view of the back.  Our seats were at the far right of the stage, in the balcony.  The cheapest seats. :)  They weren't bad at all.  We both could see Jon Schmidt, the pianist, the entire time.  It was harder to see Steven Sharp Nelson, the cellist, because of some lights that were attached to the railing right in our line of sight.  However, by angling around a bit to avoid the heads in front of us, we both could see fairly well most of the time.  For the second half, we moved over a couple of seats because there were 2 empty ones in our row.  Jim was able to see better for that half, and I was able to see better for the first half, so it all worked out!
 We stood up to stretch our legs at intermission and took a few pics of the stage.  Unfortunately the venue asked that people not take photos during the performance, so I don't actually have any pictures with the performers in them. :(  My only disappointment of the evening!  The kids were really hoping we'd come home with a video or at least a few pictures because they love the Piano Guys too. :)
The concert was a ton of fun and we were so glad we went!  We never do stuff like this, and we had to talk ourselves into splurging on tickets . . . but in the end it was well worth it!  I hope they come to NH again sometime, because we would love to take the kids next time, if we can.  (If you're not familiar with the Piano Guys, they have some great videos on Youtube--and their newest one (below) is just beautiful.  Most of their arrangements are more pop/classical combinations, but this one is a hymn.)

Then it was back to our cozy room at the inn for the night, and the next morning we headed down to the continental breakfast in the dining room.  They had tons of yummy food, and can I just say how spoiled we felt, not having to cook any of it? :)  There were homemade muffins and pastries and granola, yogurt cups and fresh fruit . . . lots of good stuff.  And juice!  We rarely ever buy juice at home, so that was a big treat too.
Look at the size of those muffins!  We enjoyed our ocean view from the dining room, as well.
We took lots of "selfies" on this trip.  What can I say? :)  We don't get out much!
On our deck, enjoying the sunshine!
The inn next door
After breakfast, we packed up and checked out of the inn.  Then we walked across the street to the cliff walk (had to burn off some of that breakfast!).  It was chilly and a bit windy, but at least the day was bright and sunny.  I liked this monument with lines from an old hymn.
The beautiful Atlantic
We enjoyed checking out the big fancy homes beside the cliff walk.  Although we wouldn't want their taxes, we do envy their view!
Stone steps
Apparently these people are ready for an invasion! :)

A few more iPod pics . . .

Looking back toward the sandy beach

So much beauty . . . 
I think this place is some kind of club--maybe.  
We walked back to the beach and did a bit of shell and rock collecting.
And picture taking, of course!  Here is a shadow selfie :)
Then we hit the road again.  We planned to shop a little on the way home.  First we enjoyed poking around at the Kittery Trading Post--always a fun place to visit!

We also stopped at a Goodwill because it's fun to check out thrift stores wherever we are . . . plus we don't have any Goodwills locally. :)  We found some good stuff, too!  Our final stop was a seafood restaurant for a late lunch, before we headed back home.
And that was our getaway!  I know many of you have already seen the pics on Facebook, but I wanted to post the story and pics for all my bloggy friends and family who haven't seen them yet. :)  We were SO thankful to have this time away.  We were especially grateful for how the timing worked out.  When we planned this, we had no idea I'd be pregnant again.  We could have waited and planned a getaway for August, when our anniversary is, but by then I'll be bigger and more uncomfortable.  The timing worked out so perfectly.  We also treasured every moment perhaps a bit more than we would have, knowing that with a new little one, we likely won't be getting away, just the two of us, for several more years at least.  (Hopefully sometime before 10 more years go by, though. :))  Now, we love our little ones and we love being with them most of the time. :)  But, someday it is just going to be the two of us again, and I want to make time now for those "alone" times, whether they be regular dates or the occasional getaway, so we don't forget what it is like to just spend time being us.  We felt so refreshed and renewed after having that time alone together, even though it was just a little more than 24 hours!  We were both super glad we went, and so very thankful for my parents' willingness to take care of the kiddos while we were gone.

And if anyone has made it to the end of this VERY long post . . . you deserve a medal. :)  Thanks for listening!!

Monday, April 07, 2014

Surprise, surprise, surprise!!


We watch a lot of old TV shows like Andy Griffith, and lately we've been enjoying Gomer Pyle as well.  Gomer likes to say "Surprise, surprise, surprise!" a lot (picture it in a heavy southern drawl . . . "sur-prahs, surprahs, surprahs!") and just a few weeks ago we got one of those BIG surprises ourselves.   I know everyone in our immediate family and friends, and those on FB already heard our news, but . . . here it is: a new baby is on the way!!!

This new little one is for sure a surprise for us.  You see, we were done having kids--or so we thought.  God thought differently. :)  Having a new little one was certainly not in our plans for 2014, but it is part of God's plan for us . . . and so, we are adjusting to the idea and getting excited about welcoming a new baby to our family sometime in November.  I am a little over 8 weeks along and feeling pretty well.  I will probably be seeing my midwife in another month or so . . . I haven't made an appt. yet, but soon.  It is going to be really strange to be going to midwife appts. again after 6 years!

We also think it is a little hilarious that this happened as soon as I started selling off my maternity clothes.  Thankfully I still have a lot of stuff left, but I am likely going to need some more summer stuff this time around (plus I am looking forward to buying a few new-to-me things, as well :)).

Sorry my blogging has been so sporadic lately, but between extra tiredness and normal life, I haven't had a lot of time to sit down and post.  I do have a few things I really want to update about, but this was the most important one and I wanted to get to it first! :)

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Book Review: Pilgrimage by Lynn Austin

I am a big Lynn Austin fan, so I was thrilled to have the opportunity to read and review her newest book (and her first nonfiction book), Pilgrimage: My Journey to a Deeper Faith in the Land Where Jesus Walked.  In this very personal account--which reads somewhat like a journal, being written in first person--Lynn shares how she was struggling in a rather dry spell of life: her nest was empty, and two of her children had moved far away.  Life just wasn't going as she expected, and it was hard to see God's plan and purposes.  When Lynn and her husband had the opportunity to go on a tour of Israel, God used it to revive and refresh her, giving her an "oasis" in what had seemed a dry desert spiritually.  Throughout the 12 chapters of Pilgrimage, Lynn shares glimpses of the various Biblical and historical sites they visited, and what God taught her in each place.

I very much enjoyed this book.  While (as I expected) it was quite different from her fiction, it was truly a refreshing read, as I felt like I got to "know" Lynn more as a person, than as just an author.  It was neat to realize that even well-known authors go through difficult times in life; they are just like the rest of us and struggle with many of the same things.  Although I am in a different stage of life than Lynn (my empty nest years are still quite a ways into the future), I have walked through plenty of "deserts" of my own and could relate to her very well.   One of my favorite things about the book is how Lynn takes you right along with her on her tour of Israel.  While I don't see myself having such an opportunity for many years, if ever, I almost felt like I was seeing the Holy Land, through her descriptions of the different sites they visited.  I liked how each chapter covered one specific area, and the lessons she learned there.  From hiking in the wilderness, to the fortress of Masada, to Jerusalem and the Temple Mount . . . to sharing a Passover meal with the tour group and later observing the Sabbath . . . to visiting Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust memorial . . . Lynn does a wonderful job giving the reader a glimpse into her journey to a deeper faith.

I will say that it took me longer than I expected to get through Pilgrimage.  Not because it was boring, but it was a slower read for me as I wanted to take my time and absorb bits at a time.  It certainly isn't a "page-turner" like many of her fiction books, but it is an excellent read and well worth it if you have ever struggled with your own dry spells in your faith-journey, or even if you would just like a more personal glimpse into Lynn Austin's life.

*Thanks to Bethany House for the free review copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.  I was not required to give a positive review, and all opinions expressed are my own.

**This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Sam Turns Ten

Sam's birthday was more than 2 weeks ago, and I'm finally getting around to blogging about it!  Since his actual birthday fell mid-week (not the best time to get family together for a party), we waited to celebrate till the Sunday after.  
Opening a card . . . 
 Very happy to get a new Lego set!

 He was also quite excited to add another Tintin book to his collection.  But, gone are the days when it would take him a couple weeks or more to read through this . . . he whizzed through it the next day, in less than 2 hours. :)
 Love his grin here!
 a package of Angry Birds gummies--a special treat that we wouldn't normally get!
 He also got a Boogie Board from his grandparents.  (If you're not familiar with these, you can check them out here . . . they are really neat, and his has been a big hit with all three kids!)  I didn't get a picture of him opening it, but here he is opening the case that Grammy made to go with it.
 And here he's writing on the Boogie Board while Julia and Josiah look on.
 He designed and helped decorate his camo army truck cake.
 Waiting to blow out the candle while we all sing . . . 
 Make a wish!
We are so thankful for Sam and the fun he brings to our lives.  I can't believe he is ten years old already!!  The years are going way too fast and it's sobering to think he will already be an adult by the time ten more are gone.  There is so much to teach him and so much I want to enjoy with him before he is all grown up!  At the same time, I love seeing him grow in so many ways, and look forward to seeing what God has planned for his future.

Happy Birthday, Sam!  We love you and are so blessed to have you in our family. :)

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Randomness for March!

I cannot believe it's been well over a month since I last posted anything.  Whew, those weeks went by in a blur, I guess!  It's not like nothing interesting has been going on around here, but I just haven't taken the time to sit down and write about it.  Which is a shame, because I really like to have a record of our life here!  Anyway . . . here are some things that made me smile in the past couple of months:

  • Visiting my Grammy T. with the kids (and bringing her very late Christmas present).  Having her show us a "selfie" she took.  I love that my 80-something-year-old Grammy is taking selflies. :)
  • Winning a giveaway from WiseDecor at RachelWojo.com.  It's been a long time since I've won a giveaway anywhere, and it was especially exciting because I have long admired those vinyl wall decals with Bible verses.  We picked Joshua 24:15 for the living room and Song of Sol. 2:16 for our bedroom.  Now . . . just gotta find the time to get them put up on the walls!
  • Finding some good deals on new-to-me clothes at local thrift stores!
  • Getting through our 24th week of school . . . YAY!!!
  • Taking a week off school just to give the house a good cleaning--and save my sanity!
  • Putting away all the Christmas stuff and putting out more of my snowmen--they make me smile. :)
  • Introducing the kids to Johnny Cash's "America" and hearing them belt out "Paul Revere" and other songs--such a fun and painless way to learn some history! ;)
  • Having such a REAL winter this year . . . tons and tons of snow equals lots of great sledding and other outdoor fun for the kiddos (and the grownups :)).  Even though at this point I have to say I am really looking forward to spring!!


  • Jim getting some work!  We are SO thankful for friends who pass on his name to other people.  He's had about a week or so of work for one family, and he just got asked this past week to build a custom 10 ft. conference table.  Very, very thankful for God's provision each step of the way.  And more outdoor work is coming up in the spring!
So that's a bit of what's been going on around here lately.  In the coming week I plan to blog about Sam's birthday, and hopefully post a book review as well.  I hope all is well with all of you!