A Weekend Getaway, Part 3: Waterfalls and Vultures, Oh My!

Here’s part 1 and Part 2.

Sunday morning we decided to take a bit of a detour through Letchworth State Park on our way home. The main entrance to the park is only about 20 minutes from Houghton so during college, it was the place we went on an occasional Sunday afternoon for some exploring.  It’s also where everyone seemed to take their graduation and/or engagement photos.  This time, we went in a new entrance to us (the one closest to Lisa’s house).  On the way there, we stumbled across the Castile Cider Mill.  It had just opened for the day and they were selling piping hot cider fry cakes, which may just have been the best doughnuts we have ever eaten. Along with apple cider and delicious apples too, we were well supplied for our trip to the park!

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The first overlook after we entered was the Archery Field overlook, complete with gorgeous views of the canyon and soaring vultures.

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so cool to be looking down at the vultures!

At the Upper Falls, a train happened to be coming over the trestle, which TOTALLY made Mark a happy boy! “Ain!! AIN!!!!”

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I love Nik’s eye for color in photography.

At the middle falls, we all enjoyed the roar of the falls and the beauty of the canyon. IMG_0143 (800x600) IMG_0145 (800x600)

A very kind stranger obliged us by taking a picture, “no charge!”, of our whole family at Inspiration Point (note both the Upper and Middle Falls behind us).

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After lunch at the lower falls, Mark discovered a new best friend in the gift shop.IMG_0124 (800x600)saying “turtle”

And here are a few shots from our drive home, fall color, handsome driver, and all!

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Lisa, we’ll definitely be back sooner rather than later to visit if you can promise me that we’ll have time to go to the cider mill and buy more fry cakes! :)

Posted in Ellie, friends, Mark, travel | 1 Comment

A Weekend Getaway, Part 2: A College Reunion, Sparsely Attended But Greatly Enjoyed

Here’s part 1.

Saturday, October 4th was Homecoming at my college and also the ostensible reason for our trip up to western New York.  So, in the morning after the kayak rides on the lake, we headed for Houghton.  There’s been quite of bit of change on campus since we graduated 15 years ago, most recently ew soccer, baseball and softball fields along with a gigantic field house complete with a regulation-size indoor track and tennis courts.  When we got to campus, I was so disoriented I hardly knew where I was (which is ridiculous because it’s a really small campus). Once we figured out where we were, we went to the kids’ carnival in the morning.  All our kids had a great time, including Ellie jumping in a bouncy house, a new experience for her!

IMG_0090 (800x600)I had the fun of seeing three of my favorite professors – Dr. Young (psychology [my major] and my adviser), Prof. Roederer (Spanish and a kindred spirit – because their children live in AK), and Dr. Gaerte (communications [my minor], student government adviser [my on-campus love], and dear friend too [he and his wife even came to our wedding]).

IMG_0095 (800x533)Dr. Gaerte, who I know I’m allowed to call Doug but I just can’t make myself! :)

The new field house was dedicated that day so we attended the ceremony.  This is a terrible picture but it does document the ribbon cutting and gives some scale for how massive the building really is.

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A student played the bagpipes for the processional and recessional.  Houghton’s mascot is the Highlander and this sound is so full of many memories for me.  So I’m going to let you watch it even though I somehow managed to shoot it upside down.  I must say, it’s pretty funny to watch the people walk by on the ceiling! :)

Only six people from our class made it to the reunion.  Somehow, we didn’t manage to see one of our classmates (sorry Jessica!) and we forgot to take a picture with the other two (sorry Jill and Mike!).  So here are Lisa, Liana, and I.  Lisa and Liana were roommates our sophomore year and I was their suitemate.  It was fun to be together again!

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Nik and I took a little time in the afternoon to wander around campus.  It really felt weird to be walking in places that I know and love so well, but to have my husband and children with me, a totally different person than I was 15 (19!) years ago.

IMG_0056 (800x600)on the Quad, too sunny for Ellie to smile

I love Houghton in the fall and I’m so glad we went to visit in October.

(coming soon – a visit to Letchworth State park – waterfalls and vultures, oh my!)

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A Weekend Getaway, Part 1: The Friends Who Got Us To Drive 309 Miles With Two Children In The Back Seat

My fifteen-year college reunion was the first weekend in October.  As much as I love Houghton, I wouldn’t have made the drive all the way up there just to go to the half-day reunion.  Luckily, my dear friend Lisa lives not too far from our college and it had been FAR too long since we’d driven north to see her and her family.  I used to make the drive 2-3 times a year, after I’d moved to Baltimore and before Nik and I got married.  Lisa’s family has always truly been my East Coast family (starting when I was a freshman and a VERY long ways from home) and I spent holidays with them.  Lisa and her family came to visit us last year and so we were glad to finally make it to their house!  This was both Ellie and Mark’s first trip there.

Lisa’s house is on a lake so we spent Friday and Saturday enjoying the lovely fall weather both in their fun backyard and near the lake.

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throwing acorns – a game that could have gone on forever! :)

IMG_0073 (800x600) IMG_0074 (800x600) IMG_0076 (800x600)just missing Lisa’s older two kids (Poor things, they had to go to school.)

Here are a few lovely scenery shots for you from Lisa’s neighborhood (thanks to Nik!).

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The wind had made the lake super choppy on Friday but thankfully, we woke up to a lovely calm lake on Saturday morning.  Ellie and Mark went kayaking with Nik and C, Lisa’s oldest son.  Well, in theory that’s what happened.  In actuality, Mark screamed for all of his one-minute boat ride and then I took him out so we could take a walk and they could see the lake!

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Saturday night, Nik even got to watch one of the resident beavers swim right by him.

The whole weekend, both girls enjoyed have a sister to play with! :)

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We had such a lovely time with our friends.  Here’s hoping we don’t let another 4.5 years go by before driving up to western New York again!

(Coming up soon: Part 2- Houghton and Part 3 – sightseeing in Letchworth State Park.)

Posted in Ellie, friends, Mark, travel | 2 Comments

Mark is a Star! (what happens when a boy has an older sister)

A friend kindly gave Ellie a lot of fun clothes in her size.  Last week we were putting them away and Mark fell in love with one particular shirt .  He even insisted on wearing it! :)

001 (800x533)I think he’s quite handsome in that color, actually!

Ellie is fond of saying, “When Mark is big like me, he can wear  [my pink shoes, my fancy dress, etc.]”  I haven’t had the heart to try to explain to her that he won’t be able to wear her fancy Easter dress when he’s four because, well, he’s a boy and that’s generally frowned upon win our society.  So I usually just say, “That’s really kind of you to want to share your clothes, sweetie!” or something like that!

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“Children In Pumpkins”, The 2014 “Look! a Tractor!” Edition

As is our custom (here’s 2013 and 2012), we went to Weber’s Cider Mill Farm on Thursday evening to take pictures of our kids with the pumpkins.  Unluckily for the parents but super-happily for the “things that go”-obsessed Mark, there was a tractor moving huge pallets of pumpkins around THE WHOLE TIME we were trying to take pictures.  So we have a lot of pictures like this:

041 (533x800) 048 (800x533)Look!  Here it comes again – for the sixteenth time!

Thankfully, we did manage to get a couple good shots, mostly thanks to Ellie gamely trying to keep on smiling even when Mark was CRAZY distracted.  So, when he happened to accidentally look at the camera, Nik was clicking, Ellie was smiling, and hurray!  A picture for 2014! :)

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We also tried putting them in a different position.  It didn’t really work but Ellie tried!

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They both were kind enough to take a picture with their mama.

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Then Nik went to console himself by taking pictures of beautiful things that don’t care if a tractor is moving somewhere way off in the distance.

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Ellie and Mark each chose a gourd to take home.  Ellie thought it was fun to pretend to use it as a phone.  Mark didn’t have a clue what his crazy parents were gesturing at him to do.

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116 (800x533)the gourd? in his other hand!

And there you have it – kids with pumpkins because it’s autumn!

To all the grandmas out there, reading this post and thinking “Get that hair out of her eyes!”, I feel obligated to defend myself by saying that it doesn’t seem to bother her and she almost always turns me down when I offer to put it up for her.  So please, don’t think I’m a terrible mother! :)

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September Sewing: Ellie’s Birthday Dress

As is becoming my tradition, I made Ellie a dress for her birthday.  I found the fun paper boat fabric at a shop in Culpepper, VA when we were on our vacation in July.  I used the “Apple-picking Dress” pattern from Oliver+S.

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The pattern has some fun details, such as a double-button placket (although only the first row of buttons is functional),

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a bow at the neck (which we have to double-knot to keep Mark from untying),

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bias-bound sleeves with the most adorable gathers ever,

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and a full gathered skirt.  I chose the two-layer option.

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Even with all that, it was a much easier dress to sew than her Montana and Easter dresses, which is a good thing because I’ve had hardly a minute to sew the past few weeks.  It’s fun to be getting quicker and better at sewing clothes! :)

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Happy 4th Birthday to Our Darling Daughter, Ellie!

Today, Ellie turned four!  This morning she told me, “Mama, I can’t pick up Mark today, even though I’m four!” Clearly she didn’t grow new muscles overnight but she has grown an immense amount in the past year.

Here’s the proof!

010 (800x533)at her 3rd birthday party, early October 2013

079 (533x800)racing duckies with Grandpa, late October 2013

138 (533x800)showing off her fashion sense, November 2013

077 (800x533)Ready to nap with Puffin and Baby Jesus Puffin (not kidding), December 2013

044 (800x532)Eating pepperoni pizza (her favorite food) at Mark’s first birthday party, January 2014

009 (800x533)very proud of the snowman she built with Yiayia, February 2014

006 (800x533) (3)with Bear as her Baby finally got some hair, March 2014

EllieDress (533x800)during the family picture photo shoot, April 2014

002 (800x533)“A purse makes a cute hat, Mama!”, May 2014

023 (800x533)on the train at the zoo, June 2014 (while her brother clutches me in terror)

007 (800x533)wearing doll clothes knitted by Yiayia and doll booties sewn by her great grandmother (my father’s mother), July 2014

001 (800x534)intently absorbed in an art project, her favorite thing to do, August 2014

009 (800x532)drawing with sidewalk chalk, September 2014

Look at that grown-up girl with the long hair!  We love you, Ellie!  You delight us every day with your zest for life and your love for your family.  We can’t wait to see what the next year brings for you!

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