Friday, July 22, 2016

5 Days at Camp


Liza and Jason just spent five days at camp... without me.
Five days with no communication.
Five days of someone else getting all their smiles and giggles and memories.

I've been away from my kids plenty of times, but it's always so much easier when I am the one going and they are the ones staying home. Home with people I know and love and trust.

Sending them off with strangers for days while I stay home... not so easy.

I missed my kids.
A lot!
All the things that happen in a day that are so normal I don't think about them... until they aren't there anymore.

I missed seeing their toothbrushes in their place.
I missed peeking in on them at night to see them sleeping.
I missed Jason checking to see if I was awake in the morning, and then coming in to snuggle.
I missed seeing Liza's shoes where she annoyingly leaves them every day.
I missed telling her to put them away.
I missed their giggles.
I missed our adventures.

Sure, me and Mike had our fun. We took a long bike ride and a nice hike. We went to a baseball game. We enjoyed our extra time together... but I think I said about a gazillion times that I missed my kids.

Thursday at 4:30 I got them back!
We had to pick them up at church. It's a 40 minute drive and Liza and Jason talked the entire way home.

They told us about...
the good food and the bad food.
friends they made.
the messy obstacle course with green basketti.
chapel and learning about jumping out of the boat... being brave and bold.
the boys in Jason's room farting at night and laughing about it, instead of falling asleep.
eating so. much. sugar.
knee hockey.
hiking to the cross.
Liza's friend who put 23 packs of sugar in one cup of tea.
Jason's six pack party where all the boys took off their shirts and showed off their muscles.
Liza's friend who liked a boy name Harrison and every time they saw him the friend would say, "Harrison! I like your face!"

Jason told me that if the boys in his group went ahead of the leader too far they would have to stop and do ten pushups... so Jason would run ahead just to get to do pushups.

And swimming! They loved swimming. I was so nervous about the swimming part. Would the adults and lifeguards watch them well? Because my kids are not great swimmers. Jason never swims without some kind of flotation device... but apparently he did at camp. He jumped in and swam. Apparently my kids can do far more than I think they can!

It's good for us to get away from each other sometimes. We learn and grow differently. We acknowledge that we miss each other. And it makes home feel even better when we are all back in our places.

We are back to enjoying the hugs and morning snuggles and telling Liza to stop dropping her shoes (and everything else) in that annoying spot just inside the door.

Mike has a rain day and we are all home... relaxing, recovering, and just being together.

Life is good.

Camp 5

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Biking - Rockland and Kennerdale Tunnels

We have been on the Allegheny River Trail several times. We have done both tunnels... but we never rode the distance between the two tunnels. It's been a ride I've talked about doing for a while now... both tunnels on the same ride. 

It's not a ride that we could do with the kids, but they are at camp this week and Mike had a day off of work yesterday. It rained in the morning but was done by 11:00 leaving us plenty of time to have some fun.

I figured the ride would be around 26 - 28 miles if we started in Emlenton and went as far as the second tunnel. I was close in my guessing. We rode 25.77 miles yesterday. Not gonna lie... it was tough for me. My legs were soooo tired by the end. I'm lazy. I sit a lot. I don't use my muscles. The ride challenged me, but I'm really glad that we did it.

We parked in Emlenton where the trail starts and began our ride. It's a lot different when Liza and Jason aren't with us, and we enjoyed going at a faster pace and not having to pay attention to how the kids were doing along the way. And so we rode.

The first tunnel came up quick, just over 5 miles up the trail.
We continued through the Rockland Tunnel and went the next 6 miles until we arrived at the Kennerdale Tunnel. We rode through that and found we had gone about 13 miles. It was time to turn around and head back.

We love the tunnels! We love the blast of cool air as we approach them. We could feel the tunnels before we could see them.

I'm glad I challenged myself with the long ride yesterday. It was really enjoyable even though I ran over a baby snake, teeny tiny frogs and several of those big nasty millipedes.

Ride bikes!! It's fun. :)

Rockland Tunnel

Getting the lights ready. You can't do these tunnels without lights.

Going in!

Near the end.

Mike riding out of the tunnel.



Kennerdale Tunnel


Sunday, July 17, 2016

52 Lists - Everything I Love to do Outdoors

List #27
Everything I Love To Do Outdoors

swim at the lake
soak up the sun
roast marshmallows
take walks
listen to live music
work (I love that my job is outside!)
sit around a fire
watch lightning bugs
see a sunrise/sunset
take photos
 lay under the stars
find waterfalls
pick berries
go sledding

Friday, July 15, 2016

A Butler Vacation

Last summer me and the kids drove to Maryland to spend a few days with my sister and her family. This year they came here. My mom and dad also joined us for some of the time.

One thing I love about Butler is that there is so much to do, lots of it free, none of it more than a short drive. We packed a lot of fun into our few short days together.

Swimming at Moraine
Blue Sox Game
Playing in the creek at Alameda Park
Dairy Queen (because the tickets to the baseball game had coupons!)
Living Treasures
Music in the Park at Alameda
Pennie's Bakeshop
And we finished off with teaching Rayna how to ride a bike before she left.

I really enjoyed having some of my family in my home and getting to share so many of our favorite things with them!





(Don't mind the people in the top right corner that aren't with us.)






















Wednesday, July 13, 2016

I Love Gardening!

I grew up working in a greenhouse.
I didn't really like it.
I also had a bad habit of accidentally killing any plant I ever had.

So logically I figured I wouldn't be any good at gardening.

Turns out I was wrong.
I'm good at gardening, and I enjoy it!

I think this is my third summer of having my own garden. I started small just to see if I could actually grow something and not kill it. I had success so I planted more the second year. This year I have even more. I don't know if I can get much more of a garden in my yard... I live on 1/10 of an acre. My yard is tiny. But I make it work.

This year I am growing snap peas, parsley, mint, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, and beans. This morning I picked this out of my garden...


I love my garden.
It's therapeutic.
I check it first thing every morning.
I pull all the weeds.
I make sure everything has the support it needs to continue growing.
I water it.
I look to see what is growing.

I have a second garden at my in-law's. It makes me sad that I can't see it every day. It doesn't get the love the my little garden in my yard gets, and I just hope it produces some good food for me!

There is something fulfilling about planting a seed (or a starter plant) and watching it grow to the point where it produces food that I can eat.

My gardening goal for next year is to use one of the free community garden plots and plant lots of cucumbers. The goal also includes learning how to make my grandma's most awesome pickles so I have something to do with all the cucumbers that I grow.

Do you garden?

Monday, July 11, 2016

52 Lists - Change and Admiration

I have been slacking with my lists the past few weeks. Actually, I've been slacking with blogging in general. It's been gorgeous out and there is just far too much summer fun to be had! We've been doing stuff almost every day... swimming, going to Living Treasures, picking berries, biking, having company. We love summer! It's supposed to be close to 90 degrees all week so I'm sure we'll be going to the lake a lot. And then next week my kids go to camp! I don't know how we seem to pack a full year's worth of fun into our summers... but we always do! Great memories are being made. I love summers with my family!

Anyways... I'm going to try to get caught up on my lists these next few weeks by doing two a week. We'll see if that actually happens or if I just give it up. :)

List #25
Things in My Life I Would Change Right Now if I Could
mortgage would be paid off
have a better marriage... still with Mike of course!
dental insurance - it would solve lots of problems
I would have a vacation planned, booked, and paid for
my downstairs would have finished floors
I would know how to make my grandma's pickles!
my pile of unfinished crochet projects would be finished
I would be able to eat like Mike... anything I want and still lose weight

List #26
Qualities I Admire Most in Others
the ability to love unconditionally

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Bike Trail - Roaring Run

Mike said that he wanted to go on a bike ride for Father's Day... so that's what we did. We found Roaring Run Trail in Apollo, PA. We got a little confused about directions when we were almost there and had to backtrack to get on the right road again, but it's not a bike ride if we don't get lost or have trouble finding the trail at least once. We're kind of used to it. And my kids are kind of used to the level of stress I hit while trying to get back on track. I need to work on that!

Anyways... we eventually found the trail head which was actually quite easy to find if we had just followed the directions and had not got confused along the way.

There is plenty of parking, picnic tables, and a bathroom. There is also a launch area for anyone canoeing or kayaking the river.

The trail is approximately five miles long. It was a bit busy for the first two miles, but then we didn't see anyone for a long time. I'm guessing they all turned off and took the Rock Furnace Trail.

Roaring Run is crushed limestone and well maintained. It's a fairly flat ride, slight uphill on the way out, downhill on the way back. Well... unless you go to the very end. Hills. Big hills at the very end. When you come to the fork in the path Liza says, "Do NOT go to the right!"

Instead, go left. You will come to a small waterfall. Looking at a waterfall is much better than biking up big hills. Of course, if you are Jason you want to do the hills again because going fast downhill is totally worth the effort of going uphill.

I think the highlight of this trip was the huge snake that slithered across the path causing Mike to slam on the brakes. When I say huge I mean about 4 feet long. We could hear it. It was creepy... and cool... because it's rare that we get to see a big snake in it's natural habitat.

It was a good day and a good ride!


I think we need a bike rack!

Toad. Liza named it "Getty" because it kept trying to get away.


This is where Liza says DO NOT GO TO THE RIGHT!







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